A Short Story
Alan Dale Dalby
"Time preserves nothing that you make without its help."
Traveling trough time does not happen by building some complex
machine or ripping open a wormhole in deep space. A little known
fact about time travel is that in order to achieve it, the aging
process simply needs to be reversed. Once the years have been
rewound, the traveler will find him or herself an infant once
more, after being pulled forth from the safety and comfort of the
womb for the second time. A second and even lesser known fact is
that the time traveler will retain all knowledge and memories
from his or her first life. The third and most important fact is
that traveling back in time can happen to anyone at any time,
even to the most unsuspecting and average person. These are facts
unknown to most for the simple fact that time travel is widely
regarded as being impossible. The truth is that it is very
possible, but only if there is something important that needs to
be returned to; even if that something is just a single moment in
a person's life. For the moments that we take for granted can
turn out to be the moments that shape our very existence. There
are very few forces that can trigger a person's trip back to
relive their life. One of the most powerful and effective of
these forces is love.
Wally West was not the first person to take a trip
back to infancy, nor would he be the last. He was however the
last person on earth to think that he would ever do such a
thing. Wally was a skeptic of the highest order. He was so
skeptical in fact that he even doubted the convictions of his
fellow skeptics. Truly, Wally West was a man who believed in
nothing. If he could see it with his own eyes or feel it in his
own hands he might conclude that it did in fact exist. Even under
these circumstances he usually felt that further research was
required. Only once in his life did Wally West allow himself to
fall victim to believing in something that he could not place on
a slide and slap under a microscope. The something was love.
In a way Wally did have his proof. He did have a
physical specimen that he could poke, prod and examine endlessly.
This proof convinced him beyond the shadow of a doubt that love
not only existed, but was a very powerful force indeed. Her name
was Abigail West, or Abby as he more often called her. She was
beautiful, full of life, and possessed charms that were
impossible to resist. She was a tender woman. Her kindness and
gentle voice gave Wally a reason to exist. The man who believed
in nothing all his life finally found something to believe in,
the day he took Abigail as his wife.
The years that had seen them together had filled
Wally with happiness. Each day he kept an eye open for a smile
from Abby and he always found what he sought. As they grew older
he refined his search. He would not simply accept her smile and
go on with his day. He would look it over, examining it carefully
to ensure its authenticity. His eyes focused on her lips and the
corners of her mouth to check for a quiver. He would look deep
into her eyes and try to find signs of pure and honest pleasure.
Some days he was satisfied with his findings. There were days
though when he spotted what he most feared. There were not many
false smiles, but he was pained over each and every one.
"Do you ever regret it?" Wally asked one day as he
sat down beside Abby on the old couch in their living room. Abby
seemed to hear the question at a distance, like an echo from the
end of a long corridor.
"What's that?" She asked as she picked small bunches
of cat hair from the pillow under her arm. Wally had a hard time
finding the right words. He thought back on all of the pregnancy
tests and trips to various doctors and clinics, finding in these
memories the reasons for Abby's false smiles. The extra room in
their modest home had long been utilized for storage. Old
furniture that they no longer used and stacks of boxes collected
more dust as each day passed. Wally exhaled through his nose and
looked down at his hand which was resting on his leg. Abby's hand
slowly appeared and slid on top of his.
There was a silent conversation taking place as Wally
looked into her eyes. A mixture of emotions filled them. She
squinted slightly and patted the top of her husband's hand with a
loving tenderness. Wally waited for her to smile. The smile
finally came followed by a kiss on his cheek. Abby shifted from
her side of the couch and softly folded herself into Wally's
embrace. He held her tightly at first, kissing the top of her
head through her slightly unkempt hair. The light in the room
faded as nighttime approached from outside. Wally had hoped for
an answer to his question, but decided that he would let it go
and simply take in the moment.
The next morning Wally headed out to get the paper.
He found himself annoyed to see that the driveway and yard had
been left empty. It was six o'clock on the dot and the delivery
man was never late. Wally grumbled to himself as he headed
inside. He kicked off his slippers and changed out of his pajamas
into his favorite blue jumpsuit and comfy loafers. Abby stood in
the kitchen with a cup of hot tea in her hand looking out the
"Where are you off to?" She asked as she spotted her
husband sneaking out the door a second time.
"I'm going to the market to get a paper." He griped.
"There's not one outside?" She tried to sound as if
it were as detrimental a situation to her as it was to Wally.
"Our delivery boy must be lying down on the job."
Wally looked at Abby and lightened his scowl a bit. "I could use
the air anyways."
"It is a beautiful morning." Abby smiled before
sipping her tea. Wally nodded and headed out into the world.
There weren't many joggers or cyclists out that morning. Wally
enjoyed the peace and solitude of his stroll to the market. He
was not anti-social but did prefer the company of his own
thoughts to the mindless chatter he and his neighbors forced upon
each other to maintain pleasant relationships. As he turned the
final corner and spotted his destination, he nearly ran over a
man with a familiar face.
"Sorry." Wally said. He looked the homely and rather
dirty man over. Underneath the long thick beard he recognized the
face. "Well hello Carmine. How have you been?"
"Yep." Carmine Phillips replied through his greasy
facial hair. His voice was nearly inaudible. Wally looked down at
a rather odd site. Clutched tightly in Carmine's hand were two
thick leather dog leashes. The way he held onto them made it seem
that Carmine believed there was a pair of slobbering canines
tethered to them. The collars were still attached to the ends of
the leashes, complete with tags. This fed further into Wally's
feeling that his old friend was no longer playing with a full
"Looks like it's going to be a nice one today." Wally
tilted his head up to admire the clear sky above them. Carmine
looked down at his empty dog collars and nodded.
"Good day to take the girls out for a walk." Carmine
mumbled. Wally began to feel a bit uneasy. He nodded and simply
walked past his old friend. As he reached the doors to the market
Wally twisted back a bit to peek at Carmine. The bearded man
still stood in the same spot. He looked as if he were waiting for
his imaginary dogs to finish their business. Wally thought of how
sad it was to see someone who had once been so bright come to
this end. He headed into the shop and grabbed his paper. In line
he tossed a few impulse items onto the counter, drooling at the
thought of a bitter-sweet bite from the dark chocolate bar he had
grabbed. He paid for his items and left the market.
Carmine was heading off into the distance in the
opposite direction from Wally's route home. Wally watched as
Carmine stopped several times and allowed his invisible pets to
sniff the grass and the bases of the trees before yanking on the
leashes and walking further away. Wally nibbled a bit on his
chocolate bar and looked at the front page of the paper. It was
the twelfth of March, not a special date in Wally's mind. The top
story was about a busload of children who had been killed in a
freak accident. It was still under investigation but seemed as if
some sort of mechanical malfunction had led to an explosion and
the bus had quickly caught fire. Some of the children made it out
with simple injuries, but even one dead child was too many in
As he reached his front lawn Wally was greeted by a
blue plastic sack with a newspaper tucked inside. He groaned to
himself and picked the paper up. He made his way through the
front door and into the kitchen.
"The paper came while I was out." Wally announced. He
sat down at the table and set his armful of goodies down. "I
brought you one of those candy bars you like." He looked around
but did not see Abby. "Honey?" He called out. There was no
response. She was probably just out back or upstairs he told
himself. He set the paper he had bought at the market to one side
and slid the other paper out of its protective baggie. As it fell
onto the table Wally frowned.
He looked at the picture and headline of the second
paper. It had no news of the tragedy with the school bus. At
first Wally assumed the delivery man had brought the wrong paper.
Then he thought perhaps he himself had bought the wrong paper at
the market. That's when he began to notice something. Both papers
were Gazettes. Both papers had all of the same ads, the same
comics and the same basic news. Only the headlines were
different. Wally was baffled. It only seemed stranger when he
looked at the dates on both papers and found them to be exactly
the same. Wally took another bite of his chocolate bar and looked
around the room. Abby was still nowhere to be found.
The curiosity boiled inside of him and Wally flung
open both papers. He set each section down side by side and
proceeded to compare them. Almost everything was exactly the same
with some very minor differences. Some sales in the ads were
different. One of the comic strips had a different punch-line but
the exact same set-up. All of these seemed to be insignificant
discrepancies until Wally came across the obituaries. All of the
photos and names were different. The most shocking of all was
that in the second paper's obituary section, Wally saw a name
that stood out and sent a harsh chill surging through him. The
name was Wallace Herbert West. Underneath this should have been
more information, but there was only one sentence. It stared at
him and he stared right back at it. It's not too late to give
her the life she wanted.
A strange sensation came over Wally. His mind began
to fill with images of his life with Abby. Then he started to
remember his life before meeting Abby. Memories flooded his brain
as Wally stared at the cryptic sentence under the announcement of
his own death. Everything he experienced was going in reverse. It
felt as if his life were being erased. Abby stepped into the
kitchen, still in her robe. She didn't seem to notice anything
unusual going on.
"Looks like got some goodies while you were out." She
sat down and picked up the candy bar that she knew had her name
written all over it. She opened it and took a small bite,
savoring the flavor as it melted onto her pallet. "These are the
little moments of bliss that make life wonderful." Abby sighed.
She opened her eyes after swallowing and noticed Wally. He had a
disturbing look on his face. It was an empty look, like a blank
slate. Abby waved her hand in front of Wally's eyes and stood up.
"Wally? Are you okay? Wally?" She became very concerned. Deep
inside Wally's brain the strange backwards journey continued. He
saw his childhood flash by him. He backed out of school and was a
toddler once more. Time flew faster into the past and soon the
theater in Wally's mind went black. As it did, Wally vanished.
Abby would have been in absolute shock but she too had taken the
trip back. Everyone in Wally's life had been sent spiraling back
through time and rebooted.
The blackness slowly took in some light as baby
Wallace opened his eyes for the first time. This had happened
once before, only now Wally was fully aware of what was
happening. His memories remained locked into his mind. They had
been reborn with him. He looked up at his exhausted mother as the
doctor gently took him from his father and passed him into her
beckoning arms. Wally looked up at his mother as he had never
seen her before. To him she had passed away long ago. Now not
only was she very much alive, but young, strong, and very
beautiful. Wally reached out and touched her with his tiny hand,
grabbing at her nose and cheeks. She smiled with tears in her
"Welcome to the world kiddo." She said with a voice
full of love. Then another face from the past popped into view.
It was Wally's father. He too was younger than Wally had ever
known him to be, with a full head of thick healthy hair. The
family reunion was odd. Wally tried to speak but could not. In
his mind he was the man who sat in the kitchen with his wife,
munching on chocolate bars and looking over the newspaper.
Physically however, Wally was a helpless infant.
As his life replayed itself, Wally took the ultimate
trip down memory lane. He skinned his knee all over again as his
father showed him how to ride his first bicycle. He relived his
first crush as Molly Maxwell was introduced as the new student in
his second grade class. He got into his first fight on the
playground and savored each tater tot from the cafeteria that he
had taken for granted his first time around. No matter where he
found himself in his past, Abby was always on his mind.
Wally enjoyed his first kiss in high school with Kimberly Shaw,
and his trip to second base with Kimberly as well. When it came
time for Wally to lose his virginity to her however he discovered
something. He was amazed that he had never thought to try this
before. Wally decided not to go through with it. He was saving
himself for Abby this time In doing so Wally had successfully
managed to change his past.
The day that Wally was to meet Abby for the first
time was several years down the road yet. He thought about the
decision he had made to change the path of his second life and
how easily he had done it. This made him wonder if he should seek
Abby out sooner. The first time around Wally had met Abigail West
in their college philosophy class. They had joined up with a
study group and met eyes. They found it hard to concentrate on
the discussion, but easy to stick around as the night went on and
more and more of the group went home. Eventually the two of them
were alone. From that day on, they were inseparable. The thought
of a little extra time with Abby sounded like a wonderful idea,
especially now that Wally knew exactly how long he had to live.
Young Wally West set off on his mission to find his beloved Abby.
He started by heading over to the house she had grown
up in. She had also spent most of her college years living there.
He parked across the street and waited for her to emerge. The
logic in his brain told him that even though every other person
was ignorant of this being a second life, his deep connection
with Abby would cause her to remember their first time around.
She would recall all of the days and nights that they spent
together as a young couple dating then living together in a
cramped apartment. She would have fond recollections of the day
he asked her to marry him and their life together as husband and
wife. He was convinced that this would be true, but instead ran
into the first hitch in his plan. As a man came out of Abby's
house, Wally had to double check his memory. He knew with
absolute certainty that he was looking at the right house, but
the man he saw standing at the mailbox was a complete stranger.
Wally drove away unnoticed. He got to a phone book
and looked up Abby's parents. He was shocked to find that they
were not listed. He visited some of Abby's old haunts and asked
around for her, but nobody could offer him any assistance in
finding Abigail West. Wally's search continued until college
started. He was not giving up because he knew this was when they
were supposed to meet at long last. He sat down at the same seat
in his psychology class and waited impatiently as the other
students piled in. He carefully monitored Abby's seat, and grew
upset when a girl he had never known took it.
Wally searched the entire campus. He asked everybody
he crossed paths with about Abigail West. All of the students he
had befriended in his first life were there, but none of them
knew what to tell him about this phantom girl he was seeking.
Wally bumped into a young and clean-cut version of Carmine
Phillips. Desperate at this point, Wally gave Carmine a huge bear
hug and begged for him for his help. The only thing Wally could
think to do at this point was come clean and tell Carmine the
story of his trip back through time. Amazingly, Carmine did not
roll his eyes or walk away uncomfortably from the ravings of this
madman. Rather he seemed very composed and even schooled on the
subject of time travel.
"What did you do differently this time around?"
Carmine asked bluntly. Wally was too upset to think clearly. All
he could focus on was finding Abby.
"What do you mean?" Wally asked.
"Look Wally, everything that happens affects
everything else that happens. It's like Dominos. If you remove
one from the row, the rest will fall in a different way from that
point on." Carmine looked seriously at Wally. Wally thought hard,
straining his brain. That's when he remembered Kimberly. It was a
memory that offered two versions. In the first, the two of them
had given fully into their passion. In the second, Wally's heart
had been given to a woman named Abby who he had yet to meet, and
so the lustful encounter with Kimberly had been cut short.
"I changed something." Wally said. The world began to
spin as Wally came to a shocking realization. "She's not here
because I changed the path of our lives." Wally grabbed onto
Carmine's shirt and shook him. "How do I fix this? How do I find
"I honestly don't know Wally. I'm sorry." Carmine
gently pushed Wally off of him and adjusted his wrinkled shirt.
"I hope you find her old friend. I truly hope you do."
With that Wally was off and running. He had no idea
how to find Abby. All he knew was that he had to find her no
matter what it took. He dropped out of college and took on some
odd jobs as he traveled from town to town in search of his
missing love. Each moment that went by without her was a moment
he was missing out on. Worse than that, after a few years Wally
began to think that he would never see Abigail West again.
Many years passed with no luck. Wally traversed the
country, starting in the places Abby had always wanted to visit.
He spread his search grid out from those points, checking
phonebooks and asking the locals if they knew where to find her.
Occasionally he would give Carmine a call in hopes of getting
good advice out of him. Most of Carmine's offerings were of no
help to Wally. They were mostly random theories about time travel
and strange comments that didn't seem to make any sense. About
seven years into his quest Wally got a call from Carmine. It had
nothing to do with Abby, but was a very important call
"Time is running out Wally." Carmine simply said as
Wally answered the phone.
"What do you mean? Is something going to happen to
Abby?" Wally asked.
"Not to Abby." Carmine said. "Think back on your
first life Wally. Look at the date. It's not too late Wally. You
need to come back home." With that, Carmine hung up the phone.
Wally sat with the receiver in his hand and thought about what
his friend had just said to him. Suddenly, a newspaper from that
morning caught his eye. He rushed over to the table in his small
weekly-rate hotel room and checked the date. His chest folded
into itself as a dark memory from his first life stabbed itself
into him. Something was going to happen. His father was about to
Wally paid off his final week of rent and spent every
dime he had left on a plane ticket home. He arrived in time to do
what he had failed to do before. The first time his father had
passed away, it had come as a complete shock to Wally. He had
spent so little time with his parents since his college
graduation. Work and Abby had consumed his life, neither of which
he regretted. This time Wally found himself at home by his
father's side. The two of them headed up to the mountains for a
weekend getaway. They shared some beers and some laughs, taking
in the beauty of the world and reminiscing on old times. Wally
kept in mind how long he had, and struggled to deal with the fact
that this was one thing he could not change. He made the most of
his final days with his father, and made sure they were back with
his mother in time for the embolism in his father's brain to
rupture. Wally learned something else about time travel as that
moment came. He learned that pain is not dulled by knowing that
death is on the way. In fact it made it hit much harder feeling
so helpless, unable to save a loved one.
After the funeral, Wally sat outside of the house he
had grown up in. Faces passed by as mourners came and went. All
of these people were a blur as they offered their condolences.
His mother sat inside and tried to remain composed as these
people offered her their sympathies as well. Wally stared at the
ground and watched his tears splash upon the old weathered wood
of the deck. A distinct sound came from the footsteps of Carmine
Phillips as he approached. Wally looked up at him and nodded,
giving Carmine permission to take a seat next to him. There was a
moment of silence, but it did not last long. Carmine began to
speak but Wally cut him off.
"How did you know my father was going to die?" Wally
"Everyone dies Wally." Carmine said.
"You know about this, don't you?" Wally stared at
Carmine. "You know about this…this…reversal of life. You know
about what happened to me. You knew I came back before I ever
told you. That's why you didn't treat me like a lunatic isn't
"Is it truth time already?" Carmine asked. Wally
leapt from his seated position and tackled Carmine. He pressed
his arm against his friend's jugular with great force.
"What happened to Abby?" Wally demanded. Carmine
gagged and gasped for air. "Tell me what is going on you son of a
bitch!" Wally let up, allowing Carmine to breathe. His friend
struggled to get his voice back and sat back up slowly.
"I don't know where she is Wally." Carmine barely
managed to finish his sentence before Wally's fist crashed into
his jaw. Carmine fell back once more as Wally stood up. "I swear
to you Wally. I do not know why she didn't follow her original
path. It could have been that you changed something. It could be
that something changed without you knowing it. I'm not a
brilliant man Wally. I don't understand the whole time traveling
thing. The only thing I do know is that it exists. The only
reason I know that is because this is my second trip back."
"So can you can go back whenever you want?" Wally
"No." Carmine croaked out the word. "You don't get to
choose when you go back, it's not something you can consciously
control. And you can only go back once."
"Then how did you manage to do it twice?" Wally
"This isn't my trip Wally. This is your trip
back. I'm just along for the ride like everybody else." Carmine
said as he forced himself to his feet. Wally offered a hand to
"Nobody else knows what is happening. How is it that
you do?" Wally looked a bit less angry and more curious now.
"Don't ask me buddy. All I know is that one morning I
am out for a stroll, missing my dogs and wishing they were still
with me." Carmine looked as if his mind were far off for a
second. "They were all I had in the world. I was traumatized when
Roper went, and Rusty died so soon after that." Carmine looked
heartbroken. "They just couldn't live without each other. After
they were gone, I knew how they felt."
"I'm sorry I hit you man." Wally said.
"No worries old buddy." Carmine smirked. The two of
them watched the guests slowly leaving and thanked them for their
concern and kindness.
"So what do I do now?" Wally asked.
"Go be with your mother." Carmine told him with a
kind smile. "Just start there. I'm sure the rest will come to you
soon enough." Wally nodded. Carmine patted him on the back and
stepped off of the deck. "Don't be a stranger." He said as he
walked away. Wally watched Carmine get into his car and drive
away. As soon as he was gone, Wally headed into the house to
console his mother.
Wally stayed in his home town. He took a job as a
mechanic and settled down into a small apartment. After several
years had gone by he was able to save up and buy a modest house.
It was a house he knew well, for he had spent half a lifetime in
it with his beloved Abby. Wally spent his days watching
television, working on cars around the neighborhood, and watching
the sun set each night. During the summer months he would sit on
his porch swing, the same one that Abby had once picked out and
had once before decorated their back deck. In the winter he would
watch the sun go down behind the mountains from the comfort of
his living room couch, without the comfort of his wife by his
Then on what started out as a not-so-spectacular day,
Wally was wandering through the park when a child slammed into
his leg. The boy had not been watching where he was going and had
lost the ice cream from his cone. It planted itself onto Wally's
pant leg. The frozen treat tumbled onto the grass, leaving a pink
stain where the impact had occurred. The terrified boy looked up
at Wally with his mouth agape. He was about six years old and
cute as any kid could be. There was something familiar in this
child's eyes, something comforting. Wally knelt down and smiled
warmly. The boy kicked at the ground and frowned at his fallen
"Sorry about your cone buddy." Wally said.
"It's okay." The boy said softly. A woman ran toward
them from behind the boy and grabbed him by the shoulders. When
he saw her face, Wally's heart stopped beating. His breath
deserted his lungs. Time seemed to become stuck in the moment and
Wally never wanted it to start back up again. There before him,
clutching the shoulders of the startled boy was his beloved Abby.
She smiled at Wally. He scanned her face and quickly found that
her happiness in that moment was genuine. The kindness, the
warmth, and the joy were all very real. Her eyes caught his gaze
and he realized what had been so familiar about the boy's eyes.
"I'm so sorry about that. My son gets a little out of
control when he gets sugar pumping through him." Abby said.
"That's…" Wally struggled to speak. He swallowed hard
and kept his gaze fixed into her eyes. "It's nothing to worry
about. I'm not too fond of these slacks anyway." Wally smiled.
Abby chuckled and looked at Wally. She seemed struck by him. She
looked over every inch of his face, her smile changing shapes.
"Don't I know you?" She finally asked.
"Mommy, can I get another ice cream?" The boy asked
with a sudden burst of impatience. Abby looked down at him and
opened her lips to speak. One of the words that came out warmed
"Maybe in a little while Wallace." She said to her
son. Wally smiled as he looked both of them over. He remembered
the trips to fertility clinics that they had once taken. He
thought back on the nights of making love in ways suggested by
books penned by various experts on conception. He thought back on
the extra room in heir humble home. His imagination removed the
dusty old furniture and boxes from that room. The curtains were
drawn back to reveal the brightly painted walls of a nursery. As
time passed, a small secure crib turned into a bed shaped like a
race car. The room filled itself with shelves for holding toys
and games. Abby sat by the side of the bed and kissed little
Wallace on the forehead. She turned off the lights and pulled the
door almost shut, leaving just a crack so she could hear her son
if he needed her in the night. Abby smiled as she turned away
from the door to the bedroom. Her smile was brighter and truer
than Wally had ever imagined it could be.
"I don't believe we've ever met." Wally said at last.
Abby nodded but did not seem convinced. A man approached slowly
and put his arm around Abby. He saw the stain on Wally's pant leg
and looked down at his son.
"Wallace, did you apologize to this nice man?" The
"It's perfectly fine I assure you," Wally said. "both
of you." He said to Abby. The husband sighed and picked up
Wallace, twirling him like a helicopter in the warm breeze.
"Come on you monster! Let's go get some pizza." The
"Pizza!" Wallace screamed with joy. Abby watched her
family and smiled. She turned back to Wally and reached out her
"I'm Abigail by the way. Abigail Goodwin." Wally took
her hand gently in his and shook it. The warmth of her soft skin
rekindled something very warm in his heart.
"It was a real pleasure to run into you, Abigail."
Wally had to fight hard not to call her Abby. She seemed to glow
as she tilted her head, her eyes suddenly filled with curiosity.
"Perhaps we will meet again sometime." Abby said.
"Perhaps we will…in another life." Wally felt as if
he himself was starting to glow a bit. Abby smiled. The two gazed
into each other's eyes for a moment before Wallace and his father
called out to Abby. She broke the gaze and took a step back.
"Until then." Abby said. Wally watched, still smiling
as Abigail Goodwin and her family headed off to get some pizza.
Wally stayed in the park for the rest of the day and soaked in
the experience of finally finding the woman he had sought so
desperately for so long.
More years passed after that day, many more. Life
happened all around Wally West, and Wally West decided that it
was no longer a spectator's sport. He joined a gym and made some
new friends. They formed a bowling team and took home quite a few
trophies. Wally explored parts of the country that he had never
been to. He saw his friends grow old and realized that he was
growing old right along with them. Then one morning, many years
after his encounter in the park, Wally awoke to find something
familiar for the first time in a long time. He stepped outside in
his pajamas to discover that the newspaper was not awaiting him
as it always did. It was six o'clock on the dot and the delivery
man was never late.
Wally got dressed, slipped on his favorite loafers
and headed off to the market. There were many joggers and couples
on bicycles that morning. He waved at them all as he made his way
to the store. As he turned one corner he nearly knocked over a
man he knew well. It didn't help any that Carmine had two
rambunctious Mastiffs jerking on their leashes as he screeched to
a halt. Wally said nothing to Carmine that morning. The two of
them simply nodded at each other and went their separate ways.
Wally returned from the market to find that his paper
had arrived while he was gone. It was wrapped in its protective
blue baggie, unlike the loose paper he held under his arm. He
grabbed onto the second paper and took them both inside. As he
enjoyed his dark chocolate bar Wally looked over the headlines of
the paper he had purchased from the market. No terrible news,
just the usual politics gone haywire. Then curiosity struck him.
Wally slipped the second paper out of its blue baggie and let it
hit the kitchen table. The anticipation of what differences he
would find this time built, then quickly died off. A feeling of
absolute serenity came over him as he stared at the second paper.
He looked down at the liver spots on his wrinkled hands and
clenched them as far into fists as his arthritis would allow. He
was proud of these old hands. He was content with the life he had
lived. He had seen Abby get the happiness he knew she deserved,
and still had all the memories of another lifetime. It had been a
full lifetime spent with Abby as his wife.
It was the twelfth of March according to the paper
Wally had brought back from the market. A potential school bus
fire had been averted according to a blip on the third page of
the paper. Wally thought of looking at the obituaries but decided
against it. The second paper that had been delivered late told
him everything he needed to know. A man who once believed in
nothing fantastical such as time travel or life after death now
sat and stared at this newspaper having just lived his entire
life for a second time. He had known so much of what to expect in
that second life, up to a certain point. Now he thought he was
nearing the end again and faced the uncertainty of things to
come. This would have terrified Wally West as the man he had once
been, but now he felt no fear at all. He tossed aside the paper
he had bought from the market, and placed the second paper in
front of him on the table. He took another bite of his chocolate
and savored it. The newspaper that sat on the table in front of
Wally was completely blank.
"So," Wally said, "what's next?"