As we leave my Grandparents house, we turn to wave good bye. They shut the door, and we start walking home. After turning the first corner, Dad turns to me.
“You’ve seen them now.”
“I know. They are different to what I imagined.”
“They’ve always been like that. Complete opposites, but somehow they work together.”
“Is that what you and Mum were like?”
“I don’t know, maybe. I don’t think so. We’re both reasonably happy people. Nothing really brought us down. Just having a nice job, in the village kept me happy. And she never asked anything more from me. I think we were just happy in each other’s company. And that’s the best thing you can really hope for.”
“She sounds like a nice person.”
“I’m sure you’ll see for yourself. You can go back plenty of times and see her. She definitely knew you, probably better than I know you now. Which is a weird thought, if you think about it.”
We walk all the way back home, it takes forever. The sun is still high in the sky by the time we return, although it feels like it should be night time, it probably isn’t far off. We barely spoke on the way home, it was just a mission to put one foot in front of the other.
The second I sit down on my bed, I pull the watch out of my pocket. I have no idea what I’m planning on doing, I just feel like I need to do something. All of the things I could do with this watch. I could go back and see the world begin, see the City rise. It wouldn’t change anything as it’s already happened. But I’m not that interested in doing that. I just want to see my Mum. I’m kind of like Dad in that sense. There are things, I’m just not supposed to know or understand. I get the impression that he’s barely used the watch, that it’s something to be used with great caution. I understand completely where he is coming from, but I feel like I need to see my Mum. He probably would have been the same.
I think hard about my Mum, before I was born. When she had just moved into this house. It’s been a day of connecting, and I feel like I just need to be that little bit closer.
The world around me bleeps out of existence, and is replaced by the oddly familiar. The room is bare, but it’s the same room. I take a second to familiarise my surroundings, there is something that is odd, even though it’s all the same. This is the same bed I’ve slept in all of my life, but it’s a sheet, that’s the only difference. The rest of the room is empty. My stacks of books, the wardrobe, the light hanging from the ceiling. All gone. I stand and walk towards the door. It swings open towards me before I reach for the handle.
“Oh my God. I haven’t seen you for a while. Surely you could have used the front door. You can knock you know.”
I don’t know how to answer. She’s just standing there in front of me. What do I do? This is what I wanted, wasn’t it. But I can’t do anything.
“This is the first time isn’t it? You look younger than I remember. Come with me, I’ll get you a drink. Jik isn’t in at the moment, he’s out. So don’t worry about bumping into him. It’s so weird, isn’t it? All of this, I mean. I can’t believe I’m getting to see you grow up so early on. I hadn’t even thought about children when I met you. It’s that the reason I name d you Nymia. Because you told me that’s your name. Sorry. I don’t mean to be flustered, just remembering what it was like when I figured it out. Water okay? Good. There you go. Sorry we don’t have anything else to offer. I’ve only just moved in. I suppose you know that already though. I can’t believe this is possible. I’ve gotten used to it now, well sort off. But being able to go wherever you want. It’s got to be so free and liberating. All of the places in history you could go to. I don’t want you to tell me anything though. Alright? I know you can. I don’t know if you’ve thought about it, but I think I know too much already. Just don’t okay. Thank you. I don’t want to know. That’s not the beauty in life.”
“That’s okay. I won’t tell you anything.” I stutter after gulping down the water.
She’s just a little older than when I met her in the cafe. I can’t believe it. She’s really here, in my house. I start shaking a little, and hold back tears.
“I’ve been put forward for the scholarship.” It’s the only thing I can think to say.
“Oh wow, really. Well done. I can’t believe it.”
“You already knew?”
“Yeah, kind of. It’s weird this isn’t it. Sorry.”
“Don’t be, that isn’t your fault, or a problem at all. I just thought I could ask for some advice about the whole thing.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you are smart enough. Don’t aim for it, it will just happen. You have to write a letter like application. Which is easier than it sounds, and I’m sure your teachers will help you with that.”
“Thanks. I’m worried about it. I don’t think I can get it.”
“I was exactly the same, but somehow I was lucky enough to get it, I’m sure you will be exactly the same.”
“That’s what my Dad says, that you got it, so I’ll be fine. But that just isn’t how I feel.”
“You seem like a smart person, I’ve got faith. Plus if you actually get stuck with anything, ever at all. I’m always here for you, and I always will be.”
I think we both know what she means by that. But neither of us acknowledge it. I’m guessing she’s already figured out her future, she just doesn’t want it confirmed. That’s fair enough, I wouldn’t.
“It’s no problem, I would do anything for you, you know that. Your Dad would as well. He just believes in you. You will achieve great things.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“But I do. You will go to the City and you will make a difference. I believe in you.”
The exact words I needed to hear, even if I didn’t know it before. We spend a couple more minutes talking, and then I head back to my time. I end up curled up in bed, with the widest grin.
I wake the next morning, slightly confused. Everything seems so blurry. I feel like I haven’t slept, but it’s light outside. I didn’t wake througout the night, I slept right through. Time travel is horrible like this. I can’t believe it. I don’t think I can get up today. Thank god it’s Sunday. I can just lay here, until Monday. I don’t think I’d be able to move today, even if I wanted to.
I drift off again, but Dad wakes me up. He swings the door open, and his feet boom inside.
“What’s going on?” I ask, half asleep.
“Nothing, I just thought you might want to get up at some point today. Have something to eat. Yesterday was a long day, but you can’t just sleep through today to make up for it.”
“Sure I can, as long as you don’t wake me up again.”
“Very funny. But I made you a sandwich, extra mouldy cheese the way you like it.”
“Thanks. I was wondering what would kill me.”
“You’re welcome. But I made a mistake. This is fresh cheese. Straight from the farm this morning, but I suppose if you don’t get up, then it will suit you just fine.”
I groan and roll out of bed, my feet thudding to the floor. He hands me the plate, and I take a bite. I can’t believe how hungry I am. Yesterday really just took it out of me.
“Yesterday was a long day, for both of us, so we’ll have a nice easy relaxing day today.”
“Yay,” I say with no enthusiasm.
The rest of the day just blends into itself. Nothing really happens. I sit on the floor behind the shop door reading. My dad works, and in the evening he makes us some food. We both eat in near silence and then head to our rooms. I fall asleep almost instantly. I don’t even have time to think.
The same happens for the next couple of days. I try at school, but I just can’t focus. I’m completely drained. Things start to go wrong. I can’t keep up with things that used to come so easily to me. I just can’t do it. I need to stay away from the pocket watch for a while. It’s taking too much of a toll on me.
There’s a dull ache in my knees that won’t go away and makes me want to cry. It makes me move around slowly, and It won’t go away. I can’t decide if it’s from lack of sleep or walking more than I’m used to.
I don’t feel concious. I couldn’t tell you what I’ve done for the last few days. My bookmark is moving through my book, but I can’t remember anything that’s happened. I’m so tired. I need to get this scholarship, but I can’t if I don’t focus.
For the first time this week I haven’t fallen asleep instantly when my head hits the pillow. I have a moment to think, to realise that my body isn’t so drained. The pocket watch is sitting on the bed side table, next to that forgotten book. I look at it for a while, running my hand along the chain. It’s a nice watch. Thanks to lack of ticking, I can actually appreciate it. The beauty in the intricate design.
The next thing I know I’m waking up, the watch still in my hands. Tightly clasped in my fist. At least I’m aware I’m awake. I get up out of bed, and even though I’ve done this countless times, it feels alien and weird. My body feels shaky, and I struggle to keep my balance. I imagine this is what being drunk feels like, or something like this. I feel sick. But I know I’m not going to be, it’s just getting used to it again. Being awake and aware this early.
I have one aim at school today, focus. I want that scholarship. I want to get into the City. I want to join my Uncle and make a difference. That’s my one aim. But I’m throwing that away, I need to focus. I step out of the house with that in mind. I feel a lot better now that I’ve eaten something, even if it is just a couple of eggs. It’s still better than nothing. And a reminder that Dad’s eggs are better than that cafe around the corner. Another thing to remember, never go there again. I’ve been blaming this on the pocket watch, but it could just as easily have been the eggs from that morning, whenever that was.
I reach school in a somewhat daze. My mind zooming around many things that have been going on recently. I feel like I’ve completely zoned out again when I step into the building, I don’t remember most of the walk here, but at least I’m aware at the moment. I switch into auto mode and walk to my classroom and take my seat. No one seems to care that I’m here, they’ve just seen me being quiet as usual, sitting here, taking it in. The teacher walks in and starts speaking. I try to focus.
The next two hours, are just me trying to pay attention. Something about a war from generations ago, something about maths. Something about something. If it’s just the history I struggle with I can go back and watch it first hand, see how accurate her words are. Probably fail in the process, and then also mess my body up even more.
As the end of the lesson nears, I’m asked to stay behind again.
“Nymia, what’s going on.” Mrs Edina asks once everyone has left, and she’s closed the door.
“I don’t know, I’m trying. I’m just tired. We walked to the next village to see some family at the weekend, and I’m still catching up on sleep.”
“Hmm, I can see that you’re slipping. Please. I know you want this. If you need extra help, then I can give you it. We can do an extra lesson on Fridays if you need some catch up time.”
“I think that would help. I am trying.”
“I can see that, but you really need to just focus and get on with it. You’ve got plenty of time, but if you start to lose the grades, then it will be more difficult to regain them. The application for the scholarship starts early in the next year. We need to put people forward, they are selected and then you need to write your application letter. I know it seems like it’s miles away, but Winter is nearly here, and then that’s half of this school year over. After that you need to think about the end year exams. If you don’t pass them then you won’t get put forward at all. It’s that easy. You are more than capable. So lets meet up this Friday, after school.”
To be continued…
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