The Time Machine
The old man sits in his time machine, laid back and relaxed, and he remembers… little things that caught his mind, like the blue of the stroller his mother pushed while he rode and wondered at the poles upon which sat houses. He thinks he lived in one.
It isn’t hard to see the past, although he knows some of it’s gone. People tell him things that bring back the sounds and smells and sights of days of childhood, but there are things some say that bring no recollection beyond the gut-known recognition of truth.
Tornadoes come screaming through his mind, half a dozen, mebbe more. But the terror’s gone and he remembers only how they left a mess and ruined Mother’s Day one year. Still, he’s seen their power, even stood inside one of the smallest when it caught him by surprise.
His mind’s eye goes back to early school and pretty little girls, Barbara and Rose Marie who lived close enough to school to walk from home. And the boys he played with, he recalls, were Lynn and Tuggie, guys like him who could stand to drop a pound or two.
Later there were crushes on every girl it seemed who came his way, but shyness and the reality that every one of them was taller than he meant a teen life of watching girls from afar or being buddies with the horse crowd. When he could, he settled for the latter.
He thinks of sports he couldn’t play… being a living random motion generator and the fascination discovered in the books he thought he hated. Homework, aside from math, becomes an excuse to read and learn. Learning just to know becomes a joy.
Reaching down he pulls the lever, swings the time machine upright, feeling as he does the fit and feel of the ejection seat in which he’s not allowed to fly. But fly he does along the mid-Korean DMZ while cameras half the size of Volkswagens shoot readable shots of cigarette packs.
Somehow in high school he had grown, and he still feels loose inside his skin, as if it were a costume that he hasn’t earned. Covered in a khaki uniform he finds himself a new persona he can wear. Shoulders back and belly tight he strides from plane to Quonset Hut.
He relives the day he left the uniform and civilian once again came home and back to college. There he found that she was glad to have his love, and stole from all the rest the most gorgeous girl at school. Beside his time machine, th’ Luvly Laura stands before his misting eyes again.
He sees again their wedding day, and the midwinter honeymoon across snow-covered plains. Forty-four years of love and war, bitter and sweet they live until she has to go. As he remembers her leaving day, the magic goes and his time machine is once again… just a La-Z-Boy.