Look, I know she’s been like this since we met her in grade school, but I’ve had enough. Just because her husband time travels at the most unexpected moments doesn’t mean that time doesn’t apply to her. Because from what I understand, she moves chronologically, right? Linearly?
If I’m wrong here, I’ll own it, but we all know I’m right because after she told us how Y2K would be fine, we asked, “Do you time travel, too?! What’s it like to time travel?!” And she kept saying, “It doesn’t work like that, dumb-dumbs. He’s the one who time travels for me.” So, again I ask, what’s keeping her from making it to book club in a punctual fashion?
I know I can’t fully understand what she’s going through, living in a messed-up timeline where her future husband started visiting her when she was a young girl (and he was an adult man). Which, sidebar, what if that’s why she ended up marrying him in the first place? What if this guy, who is a time traveler—that part, I believe—wasn’t really her husband in the future but decided he wanted to be, so he told her he was? And maybe he described their perfect, completely fabricated life together, even though there wasn’t any “together” to speak of. But now… there is?
I mean, talk about a total mind warp. But do you know what else is a total mind warp? This friendship. Does it even mean anything to her? I know I should have a conversation with her about it rather than airing my grievances here in Robin’s living room, but guess what: I’ve tried. And she’s canceled every time because of “a time-jump thing lol,” which I understand if that happens once, maybe twice, but all four times? Come on.
And it’s the same old song and dance today. Ten minutes ago, when she was already twenty minutes late to book club, she texted, “Start w/o me. Time travel stuff. 🙃”
So then I say, “K. How late will you be?”
And then she says, “Late? Time is way more complex than that.”
So then I say, “K. When will you be here?”
And she texts, “If only it were that easy.”
I’m pretty much done at this point. Do you remember what she was like that one year in school band? When she got the clarinet solo all seven of us also wanted? She kept going on and on about how she needed us to be ready to take her place because, “My love might come to me from the future, and if he does he’ll be naked, and I’ll need to bring him food and water and clothes and maybe even a discreet surgeon to fix his wounds, and I guess compared to the rest of my life, this clarinet solo is so stupid, just like school and dances and especially building parade floats.” And this was the exact same day I’d been elected Parade Float Committee President. Do you remember that?
Still, all seven of us learned the heck out of that clarinet solo, practicing between classes, after school, and underneath the football bleachers. We told her not to worry, that we had her back, and secretly—deep down in my hidden heart—I wanted her to miss the concert so badly so that just once I could shine. She could have her mysterious and creepily romantic future husband, but I… I would have the clarinet solo and the parade float.
So, the night of the concert, we’d all taken our seats onstage, and Mr. Garberding was frantic in his suit, pacing around, asking us if we’d seen the Time Traveler’s Wife, and of course, we hadn’t. Then Mr. Garberding looked at me and said, “Since the Time Traveler’s Wife isn’t here, could you do the clarinet solo? In addition to your parade float responsibilities this spring, could you also take on the clarinet solo tonight?” And my heart fluttered, and I told him yes, I could indeed manage both, solo and float, and was prepared, in full, to deliver.
I slid over to the empty first clarinet’s chair and made sure everything was ready—my reed, my clarinet—and I felt so important. And just as the red velvet curtains parted and the applause began, the lights bright in my stupidly optimistic eyes, the Time Traveler’s Wife came running in from stage right, looking so poetically haunted in yet another flowing gown of hers. She shooed me back to second chair with her hand, and, sinking down beside me, she whispered, “He’s here. He’s hiding in the audience, his love so strong for me that he literally leaps through time.”
And I threw up. Barfed right in front of the flutes, the whole band, Mr. Garberding, and all our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas. Aunts and uncles were there too and friends and neighbors, you remember the neighbors? Cousins. All the guardians and mentors we’d ever had in our young lives, and I threw up onstage because of her and her stupid time-traveling husband.
So no, I’m not going to let today slide. I’m not going to look past yet another book club tardy, because I think she gets a sick thrill out of all of this. Keeping us on pins and needles, always at the ready to swoop in and answer her every beck and call. Oh, the poor Time Traveler’s Wife, so epically, beautifully tragic. Please.
And no, we are not going to read the book about her. Or watch the movie. Or the show. The fact that she proposed we do all three for next month is, frankly, very her.
Oh, she told you that’s exactly what I would say? Because her husband time traveled and knew tonight would get ugly and I’d bring up the clarinet thing again, and that’s why she’s not here? Yeah, maybe. Or maybe she’s lying. Back me up here, Robin.