Untitled Rough Draft | Chapter Excerpt:
"Likewise." Arthur leans in to light a cigarette. "Whole place gives me the creeps."
You've heard that line before. And you're uncomfortable in the silence that follows, because it then dawns on you that this is the same Arthur who wrote in that old journal you read back at your world.
Arthur is not at all what you had pictured. You thought he would be this boyish and lanky sort – a tortured artist who used self-deprecating humor to deter an awareness of his own charm and good looks. But instead he's more of a jock than a Hemingway. He has a writer's intuition to pour his heart and soul out on page but in person he's so damn reserved, it's a wonder that he says no more than he needs to. And despite how much you've grown to like that charming poet from that old journal, you're timid in your approach to connect with the stoic, rugged man who stands before you now.
"Didn't get a chance to thank you for what you did back there," you say. "I owe you one."
"Don't mention it."
He drags another smoke. The conversation seems dead on arrival, that is until he meets your gaze, eyes undeniably blue under the lamplight.
"How you liking the camp so far?"
"It's an adjustment."
"Sure." He sees right through that lie. You can tell by the way his smile reaches his eyes. "Give it some time. Once we get a couple things sorted out I'll take you back to your family..."
"Right, well, see – that's kinda the problem..." Undaunted, you take a step closer. "As much as I'd like to go back, I'm not even sure if that's possible."
"What you mean?"
"Would you think I was crazy if I told you?"
"Crazier than this lot?" He laughs. "Highly doubt that –"
"I don't belong here."
Arthur looks about as if you're merely stating the obvious. "Okay?"
"And I don't just mean hypothetically speaking. I've already made peace with what's happened to me, I just don't know where else to go from here."
Arthur takes a long drag of smoke before putting it out. When he looks back at you, arms crossed – ready and waiting – you're unsure of what to do with his undivided attention. And your heart skips a beat as you rub your elbows out of nerves, hoping and praying that he's got an open mind.
"I'm a talk show host," you tell him. You look into the distance as you think back at your life. "I like dinner for breakfast. Sometimes I get anxious when I don't get a text back. My biggest break was getting a Funko Pop doll modeled after me last year. And despite what my publicist says, I am sort of but not really involved with some guy who happens to be a really good boost to my career..."
Arthur narrows his eyes. "I don't follow..."
"I'm from the future."
Arthur doesn't say a word but he appears bewildered – as if concerned about your great sense of imagination. And you kind of feel sorry for the guy, really. What could he possibility say to something like that?
So you continue to do all the talking.
You pace back and forth as you retrace your steps, nodding in agreement with the sequence of events that occurred in the last twenty-four hours: you had been filming at the Shady Belle mansion, where you were then knocked unconscious by what had felt like an earthquake and winded up here – one hundred and thirty years back in time.
"That's..." Arthur appears uneasy but he remains cordial. "Miss, that's quite a story."
You can't make him believe you. Not while you don't even know the first thing there is to know about time travel and worm holes and ancient alien magic or whatever.
What you needed was proof. So you change your approach.
"I'm guessing by this time you've already seen Mary?"
Arthur appears stricken by the mention of her name. You then recall what he had written in his journal.
"She's going to write you again," you say. "And when she does, she'll ask another favor of you. It's gonna be about her dad."
You tighten your hold on your shawl as you solidify your bargaining chip.
"If I'm wrong about that cowboy, then you can call me crazy."
It could use some polishing, haha. Despite how little time I have to write I'm enjoying the spur of inspiration. It's been a much needed break from the dry material in academia and I can't wait to share this when it's ready.