1 - My Daughter's Birthday
advice from Dr Green I took constant deep breaths
through my mouth, forcing myself to exhale through
pursed lips, fighting my urge to push. My head span
and I couldn't understand why it was taking so long.
relax and keep breathing," the midwife said
looking down at me between glances at my groin that
she shared with the doctor.
how exactly do I do that?!" I screeched while
looking up at her from the bed.
my words as though I was an insolent child, instead
giving me a stern look over the top of her large
I moaned as another contraction throbbed my insides
like a giant shit wanting to squeeze its way out of a
poured from my forehead.
Dr Green said calmly.
birth was certainly not the joyous occasion I
expected it to be. In fact it was likely due to what
I intended to do with the baby that added to my
distress. My husband and I had been trying for a baby
for years, and were both overjoyed when I discovered
I was pregnant. However, he was a soldier and was
mortally wounded during the recent uprising in India,
leaving me a 26 year old widow without a penny to my
name. I wasn't capable of bringing up a child,
neither mentally nor financially, and it was the best
thing to hand the baby over to a loving couple who
would bring that child up as their own. I knew it was
the right thing, but I also knew I would likely
regret that decision the moment I set my eyes upon my
beautiful baby, so I was going to have to force
myself to not even glance down.
okay you can push now," the midwife said after
what seemed like an absolute age.
out as I began to squeeze my already exhausted loins
as they stretched far beyond their limit.
see the head," Dr Green said calmly with a pair
of oversized metal forceps within his hand.
adjusted his head mirror, then made sure his white
coat was securely buttoned, before bowing his head
down getting himself ready for the big event.
continued to wait patiently, acting calm as though
they had witnessed so many births over the years that
to them this was just a usual everyday event. The
paperwork was already signed and the baby was to be
handed over to them the moment it left my body. I
wondered if one of them was to act as wet-nurse or if
they had someone else standing by.
felt numb while my insides throbbed. Within moments
the baby slipped out and Dr Green started fiddling
with the umbilical cord. The midwife intentionally
leant over obscuring my view as I tried to look down
at my baby. The two nuns had already approached,
holding their hands at the ready, to take my
beautiful child away.
were all over the place, relieved that my burden was
over, yet full of regrets of what might have been.
for the best," one of the nuns repeated knowing
from experience what I must have been feeling.
2 - Twenty Years Later
fast as I could down the narrow streets of Leicester
Square, with a firm grasp of the folds of my dress to
avoid tripping, I headed for the old lamp maker's
shop knowing full well that he was due to close at
I called out at the people hanging around the street
corner to warn them of my approach.
There was a
horseless carriage parked in the street, one of the
steam powered kind, looking somewhat like a kettle on
wheels. With the crowded pavement and parked vehicle
I had to in effect dash into the road to get past. It
was a risk to do such a thing, especially with it
being such a busy thoroughfare, but I was in such a
heels clip clopped against the cobblestones of the
busy road as I ran directly into traffic. The next
thing I heard was the sound of a klaxon.
where you're going?!" A driver wearing a scruffy
black cap and goggles called out.
I felt his
choice of words totally apt due to the nature of
where I was heading. Watch where I was going was
I poked two
fingers up at him in response and continued hurrying,
round the parked carriage, and back onto the pavement
heading into a small arched lane. I could hear Big
Ben in the distance chime the hour. The lamp maker's
shop was surely about to close.
Once I made
it down the far end of the lane I practically forced
open the door of the shop as the owner Mr Phillips
was in the process of closing up. He had even
displayed the closed sign but I was insistent on
getting the supplies I needed.
your horses!" He blurted out as he steadied
himself on his feet.
toward him trying to reveal an apologetic look upon
my face then smiled brightly.
sorry but I need these supplies most urgently,"
toward the large grandfather clock in the corner of
the shop, which read two minutes past the hour, then
turned back to face me.
he said with his usual gravel toned voice, "So I
guess you'll be needing some oil, what kind do you
He made his
way over to the shop counter. His brown waistcoat was
immaculate which was a striking contrast against his
ragged trousers. His shirt appeared a little dirty
too due to oily stains caused by the constant
refilling of lamps.
need more than just oil today," I said as I
approached the counter, "I've made a list and,
if at all possible, I would like the supplies
delivered to my home today."
the hem of my skirt and retrieved the list from the
hidden pocket of my petticoat.
Mr Phillips said through gritted teeth, "I'm not
sure I can make it today, you see I have pre-existing
orders to deal with. Maybe I can get round to you on
make it worth your while," I said with a bright
smile as I handed him the list, "I really need
these items tonight."
He was far
too old for me to use my feminine whiles upon him,
even if I tried he was experienced enough to see
right through them, but by expressing that I'd make
it worth his while could imply I would offer him a
favour in return.
glanced up and down the list before giving me a most
unusual stare then continued to read. He let out a
no problem," he said in a casual manner, "But
what pressing reason requires the need for sixteen
lots of lamps," I responded with a smile.
carbon powder," he continued reading the list
out loud, "Gear grease, one yard of wick, three
pounds of pure beeswax, a sailor's chronograph,
fifteen fluid ounces of petroleum gasoline, a spy
glass and finally half a pound of gobstoppers."
I responded, "Do you have those items in stock?"
He gave me
a long hard stare.
only have what's here," he said waving his open
hand at the items on display scattered around the
shop, "And besides not all of those things are
I'm certain with your contacts and ingenuity you
could obtain them," I said giving him the same
smile as before.
his tall hat and rubbed his head astonished at what I
certainly not tonight," he replied casually as
he rubbed his head.
momentarily wondering if the items could wait after
all. Was it purely my impatience that was the drive
to gather everything I needed, or was that particular
night so important? As I thought about it I realised
I was going to have to wait after all, it wasn't as
though I had a choice.
I am acting just a tad impetuous," I said to Mr
Phillips calmly, "But can you obtain everything
on the list, by the end of the week perhaps?"
do you want all those items for anyway?" He
asked before rubbing his chin, "It's an
explosive mix. You're not putting together something
illegal are you? Such as a bomb perhaps?"
good heavens," I quickly responded, "What
do you take me for?"
to laugh in the hope he would desist in his enquiry.
I glanced toward his eyes, he clearly wasn't fooled
by my obvious distraction.
a science experiment," I quickly added, "Illegal
certainly not, there is no law against what I'm going
to attempt because it's never been done before, not
successfully anyway. Immoral perhaps just a hint, but
it's for the better good I assure you, and no one
will get hurt if things go hurt if things go the way
they don't go the way they should?" He said,
"What'll happen precisely?"
the excitement will likely explode in my face,"
I responded honestly.
at one another for a few moments.
the list with me," Mr Phillips said, "I'll
see what I can do, I can't promise everything mind,
but I should be able to gather most items by the end
of the week."
my fist with happiness.
you," I said cheerily.
if you excuse me I have today's orders to process and
deliver," he said.
I nodded my
head and headed over to the shop door.
what are the gobstoppers for?" He asked as I
pulled the door open.
back to face him.
just something to suck on during the experiment,"
I replied with a cheeky grin.
3 - The Experiment Revealed
evening I rested myself upon the couch, in a half
laying half sitting fashion, while thinking about my
experiment. The clock on the mantelpiece, above the
roaring fire, ticked loudly as it approached seven. I
wasn't lying to Mr Phillips when I stated that I had
a lot of oil lamps, for they were illuminating the
living room in a bright light, giving the room an
atmosphere resembling daylight whilst at the same
time removing the usual cosy feeling to the room.
my bare feet against the fluffy rug pondering if my
plan was the right thing after all. In all likelihood
the experiment would simply fail to work, as was the
case with all the other scientists who attempted it,
but I was sure my calculations were correct and I
could not see how things would fail. It was also
possible of course that the previous scientists who
attempted the same thing did in fact succeed, but
with so much power at there disposal they probably
chose to simply lie about it and fain failure as to
avoid humanity destroying itself.
There was a
gentle knock against the living room door followed by
the sound of someone clearing their throat. It was
Perry my butler. I quickly put my shoes back on as it
was unseemly for me to reveal my bare feet and ankles
in front of him in such a casual manner.
may enter!" I called out.
opened the door and entered the room, casually
glancing his eyes around, noticing I had every lamp
fully lit yet choosing not to give it a mention.
Fidelia Callere Rothery has arrived and is awaiting
your presence in the drawing room," he said with
his usual immaculate tone of voice.
I stared at
Perry with a puzzled look upon my face.
she say what she wants?" I asked.
never deemed a necessity to ask," Perry replied
adjusting his white cotton gloves, "As I believe
she is here for your planned dinner date."
surely that's for Wednesday?" I said.
is Wednesday," he casually responded.
precise moment the clock on the mantelpiece started
to chime seven causing a sense of panic to shoot down
my spine. The new sushi bar down Suchimu Avenue was
our planned destination, but I had yet to make a
reservation and knew all too well that we would never
get a table if we simply turned up. Besides, I wasn't
even dressed for dinner and I wasn't one for rushing
when it came to selecting the right outfit.
I said jumping to my feet.
you wish for me to explain to Miss Fidelia that you'll
be a little late?" Perry asked.
one hand on my forehead and another on my hip whilst
deciding what to do. Fedelia had her heart set upon
sharing a sushi meal with me and, whatever the
outcome of the mess in which I found myself to be, I
was going to have to turn her down.
I responded, "Um, tell her I'll be..."
now appears that there will be no need," Perry
said moving to one side of the door to allow Fedelia
to enter as she came hurrying up the hallway.
into the room looking striking wearing her long silk
kimono gown embroidered with metallic beads that
reflected the light of the multiple lamps. Her stare
went right through me while she rested both fists
against her hips as though I had done her a great
disservice. Her body stood rigid with the only signs
of life coming from her gentle breathing and the
gradual increase in size of her bust as though she
was a steam kettle ready to blow its top.
will take my leave," Perry said sensing what was
about to happen.
I nodded my
response to him as he exited the living room and
closed the door. His footsteps down the hall moved
far quicker than usual.
Fedelia said sharply.
didn't forget our dinner date," I said softly
while holding my hands out in front of me in a style
of submission, "I just forgot what day today was
due to being so busy of late."
continued to keep one fist rested against her hip as
she walked over to the window, the curtains of which
were drawn. She stared at nothing for a few moments
before facing me again.
many times has it been now?!" She asked, "Three,
four, maybe. Why do you make dinner plans only to
never carry them through? I knew this was going to be
a mistake, all this time preparing. Do you have any
love your dress by the way," I snuck in a
compliment in the hope of calming her temperament.
her fist from her hip momentarily then placed both of
them back into position.
a good mind to leave!" She moaned, "Right
now, this very moment. I'm sure I can get dinner
somewhere and with far better company!"
I took a
deep intake of breath then walked over to her.
calm down before you rupture something," I said
as I gently rested my hands on her arms to get her to
change posture, "It's never been three or four
times, you know it, it's only been a couple of times
I've forgotten, but I know you'll forgive me because
you're such a nice caring friend."
I gave her
a gentle closed mouth smile which she appeared to
intentionally ignore. She walked away from me, over
to the fireplace, holding out her arms to warm them.
really did want to share a plate of sushi with you,"
she said calmly, "I was looking forward to it
even though it tastes ghastly."
know," I responded, "And we will, soon, I
promise, just not tonight. I've just been preoccupied
around the couch then sat myself down kicking off my
tight shoes and resting my feet on the warm rug.
Fedelia looked directly at the clock on the
mantelpiece, stroking her finger across its face as
though it was something of extreme significance, most
probably imagining the missed opportunity of dinner.
I stared at
her back while continuing to admire her choice of
outfit. The flickering light from the fire
illuminated the smooth texture of her silk dress
giving the illusion that it was liquid in constant
flux. Her black stockings, containing noticeable
seams along their back, drew the eyes to her legs and
her clunky red shoes. Over her shoulder hung a small
brown leather bag in which she kept her travelling
items such as driving gloves and goggles.
moved herself away from the fire and sat herself down
on the couch opposite me and stretched out her legs
scuffing the fluffiness of the rug with her wide
what is this thing that occupies your every thought
to such an extent that you forget the passing of the
days of the week?" She asked calmly.
I hoped she
wasn't going to ask as it was something I didn't want
other people to know on account that it may sound
silly, or to be more accurate on account that I
personally may sound silly.
just another experiment I'm working on," I
quickly replied, "There are a lot of fine
details I need to sort out within my head, that's all."
gave me a strange look.
not working on that heated lavatory seat again are
you?" She asked.
shook my head.
no, I gave up on that months ago," I replied,
"I've still got the scars on my buttocks from
the last time."
what are you working on then?" She then asked.
my eyes toward the fireplace and the burning fire
within not being sure whether to tell her. I wondered
if I could fool her with a cryptic non-specific
paid a visit to the lamp shop today and had a long
conversation with Mr Phillips requesting certain
supplies for my experiment," I said, "He
didn't have what I needed right away but he's
promised he will by the end of the week, so I've been
feeling a little frustrated at having to wait. I'm
often impatient and I know it's a weakness I'm going
to have to deal with. I should really work at
controlling my over impetuousness when it comes to
certainly agree," Fedelia said, "You have
the tendency to do things before fully thinking
through the consequences."
moment I felt pleased that I managed to avoid her
question without looking as though I had, but Fedelia
wasn't going to be fooled so easily.
what does this experiment do?" She asked
hunching her shoulders and leaning forward giving me
a sly look knowing that I had failed to outwit her.
I closed my
eyes in thought.
know I won't betray your trust," she said
resting her hand against the centre of her chest,
"You can tell me."
a personal experiment," I said, "It's not
for financial gain you understand, it's something
deeply personal to me, and I feel awkward talking
stood up and joined me on my couch positioning
herself beside me. She sensed the seriousness of my
experiment based upon the tone of my voice and body
tell me," she said before resting her hand upon
think it silly," I responded.
a strong feeling this is the one experiment you've
been working on that leads to an invention that isn't
silly," she said with a smile.
quiet for a few moments while trying to pluck up the
courage to tell her. I took a long deep breath.
intend to create a time machine and visit my daughter's
childhood, to let her know that I still love her and
that she's always in my thoughts, and to make sure
her adopted parents are taking good care of her,"
I said bluntly.
out a deep breath then stood up and sat back upon the
couch opposite me. Both her hands were in the
position of prayer as she thought about what I had
understand your need," she said slowly, "The
motherly instinct is strong and you have regrets
about the choice you made when you gave her up for
adoption. So you feel a maternal impulse to see her
again and have her as part of your life. But you have
to realise there is no way for you to change your
decision, you can't get..."
no," I quickly said, "I don't regret my
decision. I don't intend to take her back, it would
cause a major paradox if I attempted such a thing. I
just need to be sure she's all right, she won't even
recognise who I am. I could go back to her childhood
and check on her from a distance. Then when I'm fully
satisfied she's being well looked after I'd return."
look on Fedelia's face it was clear she thought I had
become truly insane.
would be far easier for you to trace her whereabouts
then simply ask her about her childhood," she
said, "You could even reveal that you're her
mother with no fear of a so-called paradox."
I shook my
already traced the names of her parents and the
location of her childhood home," I said, "But
she moved house long ago with no telling what's
happened to her. I just need to see her again, to
know she's taken care of. As long as I know that then
I'll be happy."
cannot travel back in time. This is madness,"
Fedelia said shaking her head while looking at the
I jumped to
my feet causing her to look up at me and flinch as
she became startled.
our friendship is over, kindly leave!" I said
she remained sitting unperturbed by my emotional
outburst. It was clear she understood my feelings and
wasn't going to challenge them.
understand your reasoning," she said calmly,
"But you need to be rational about this, and as
you already stated you need to be less impulsive and
think this through."
I shouted down at her as she looked up at me from the
couch, "You don't understand anything and have
no idea what I'm going through. I gave up the most
precious thing in my entire life so I could live a
life of luxury. I'm selfish, I'm a horrible human
being, and a terrible mother. She needs to know that
I exist. I have every right to go back and change
things, and even if I can't, if the laws of physics
forbid me doing so, then at least my life has some
meaning if I attempt..."
onto the floor in tears.
4 - False Promise
It was a
strange feeling as I sat slumped in the middle of the
fluffy rug while Fedelia stroked my back. We had been
friends for many years, ever since I taught her
advanced engineering at university during my many
years as a teacher, but something seemed to bind us
closely together that was beyond mere friendship,
even though at times we didn't get along. As of that
moment however that bond was stronger than ever, as I
needed her emotional support which she appeared more
than happy to give.
toward the flickering flames in the fireplace as if
trying to dry my tears that coated my face. I sniffed
a few times trying to muster up the courage to speak
only to mumble incomprehensible gibberish.
understand, I really do," Fedelia said softly,
"We all have regrets and past mistakes we wish
we could change, but all we can do is learn from them.
We cannot undo what's already done."
just need to check that she's all right," I
whispered between sniffs.
out a breath then leant closer to me pressing her
cheek against mine.
daughter's already a grown woman, checking up on her
childhood will change nothing," she said softly.
leant herself back, and repositioned her sitting
position upon the fluffy rug, but still made sure to
keep her caring hand resting upon my shoulder giving
it a gentle stroke using her fingers.
back when I a little kid I had a maid come nanny that
used to live with us," Fedelia said, "Her
name was Innie and she was way older than me, yet was
friendly in a childlike manner, if you know what I
mean. She spoke with me rather than down to me. Then
one day, after a number of months or so, she simply
left for no apparent reason. I blamed myself and
thought I had wronged her somehow. I'd give anything
to know what happened to her but it's just one of
those mysteries that happen in life and there's
nothing we can do about it."
not quite the same thing," I whispered as I
heaved myself up and took a hobbled step closer to
was approaching half past eight and I so regretted
not going out to dinner. There was a strong sense of
embarrassment too within my soul that I had not only
forgotten about our dinner arrangement but also that
I had broken down in front of Fedelia. She was
clearly going to see me in a new light from that
maid likely found a new position with a higher salary,
that's all," I said softly.
stood up and took a step closer. I could see her face
in the reflection of the mirror above the fireplace.
parents dismissed her upon discovering her false
identity," Fedelia replied with just a hint of a
smirk, "She called herself Innie Cognito. But I'd
still love to know what happened to her, she was
genuinely a sweet person."
help but to let out a small giggle.
promise me you're not going to go through with this
experiment," Fedelia said in a serious tone.
away from the mirror and turned to face her before
resting both my hands against my heart.
promise," I said intentionally lying.
5 - Back In Time
of the giant clock, along with the sound of bubbling
chemicals within my laboratory, was loud and it was
the first time in my life that I felt truly confident
that one of my experiments was going to in fact work.
This was such a dangerous experiment too with so many
potential possibilities of disaster. If by a miracle
of a slim chance it did succeed then I would still
need to keep my invention secret as to not allow
others to abuse it and inadvertently destroy mankind
in the process. Time never ran in a straight line, it
was curved like the surface of a sphere, in theory
the meridian would resolve all paradoxes even before
the time travel event took place, but I wasn't fully
certain that it worked that way hence it was an
over to the terminal of flashing lights and adjusted
the dial. I was to go back fourteen years, and make
my way to my daughter's childhood home, just to keep
an eye on her from a distance, then make my return. I
made the adjustment on the return dial, setting it to
three months, which would force my return no matter
what the outcome. I couldn't remain in the past any
more than I was able to bring my daughter back to the
future, it simply didn't work that way, I was only to
observe not interact.
wafted from the transportation panel indicating that
it was ready. I calmly walked over to my desk and put
a gobstopper into my mouth as I pondered on my
thoughts. I wondered what would happen if I bumped
into my past self and what she would make of me. The
mere fact that I had no memory of that event in the
past meant it was something that wasn't going to
happen. Thinking in present past tense was throbbing
could hear heavy footsteps rushing down towards my
basement laboratory along with the sound of my butler
yelling at someone to stop. I wished I had a lock on
the door but up until that moment felt there was no
over to the transportation pad knowing full well who
was rushing down the steps and wishing for her not to
attempt to stop me.
flung open and in rushed Fedelia fuming with rage.
She hurried over to me before I even had time to
the hell are you doing?!" She screamed at the
top of her voice, "You promised me you'd not
attempt this. Why did you lie to me? Why would you do
my eyes toward the transportation pad that still
wafted with steam, I just needed to take a small step
to my right and I'd be away.
just need to try it," I responded softly just
for the sake of distracting her.
I'm not letting you!" She shouted then slapped
my face causing my gobstopper to shoot out onto the
my hand against my cheek, feeling totally agasp that
she had struck me. I felt the urge to cry not with
pain but with shock.
not going to let you do something so idiotic that you'll
wind up killing yourself!" She screeched, "Now
you end this experiment now, then get yourself up
those stairs, or I will be forced to strike you again!"
her hand reminding me of a strict schoolmistress
chastising a naughty child. I was more than twice her
age and it should have been me that was the
okay!" I responded holding up my palms.
she lowered her hand I took the opportunity to lurch
towards her, pushing her away from me, and forcing
her to take a tumble onto the laboratory floor.
However, she had managed to grab the hem of my dress
preventing me from reaching the transportation pad.
off me!" I moaned loudly, "I can do
whatever I like, you're no longer my friend, leave my
managed to clamber to her feet while still tugging
tightly at my dress. I felt she was going to hit me
again and it was very likely we were soon to be
having a fist fight which I was certain I wasn't
going to win.
attempted to pull her hand away from the material of
my dress she managed to grab both of my arms, just
below the elbows, pushing me backwards. Her face
resembled an angry beast with I as her pray.
insane!" She screeched, "You need help!"
almighty effort, taking all the strength I could
muster within my feeble body, I pushed her from me
causing her to tumble backwards against the
transportation pad. There was a flash of light and
she vanished in a puff of smoke.
6 - Paradox Resolved
even time for me to react with shock, for the three
months Fedelia spent in the past was instantaneous
from my point of view, and she was back on the
transportation pad as quickly as she had left it. The
fact that she was still alive proved the experiment
was a success.
stared at one another while the constant overlapping
sounds of the laboratory appeared to grow quiet. Her
clothing had changed too and she was wearing a plain
back dress rather than the extravagant red one she
had been wearing earlier.
you..." I said very slowly, "Are you all
away from the transportation pad and glanced her eyes
around the laboratory before nodding her reply.
is the same day, the very same moment in fact, that
you left," I said choosing my words carefully,
"You're likely disoriented and confused, but
that will soon pass."
took a large intake of breath.
past few months have been very trying to say the
least," she responded while still looking
confused, "And I've experienced a lot of unusual
events that I never thought possible."
took a step closer to her.
were right though," I said calmly while shaking
my head, "I should have never created this
infernal machine, and I will dismantle this entire
experiment before it does any more damage."
would be for the best," Fedelia responded,
"After all, you did succeed with what you set
out achieve, albeit with the wrong traveller but your
walked over to my desk then leant against it while I
stood intrigued as to what she was about to say next.
I arrived in the past I was at a loss as to what to
do especially having no idea as to how much time I
would be spending there," she said calmly,
"So I obtained employment as a maid come nanny,
where I was duly sent to a wonderful home looking
after a young child. It wasn't long however before I
was dismissed for using a false name."
reminded me of something she mentioned days earlier.
were Innie?" I asked.
my maid from my childhood," I said.
I took a
large intake of breath and was ready to speak, but
the likelihood of such an event caused me to remain
silent wondering if the event itself was created by a
time paradox repairing itself.
still don't understand," Fedelia continued in a
soft tone of voice, "I was checking up on your
daughter, as for the reason for creating this
experiment, and I became a maid to get close to her."
was she well looked after?!" I quickly asked
remained silent waiting for her words to sink into my
mind. The moment I realised what she meant I burst
into tears and hurried over to her, wrapping my arms
tightly around her.