A Moment Too Late

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


I came looking for a girl but found a husk. Two stars for eyes had been replaced with rainclouds. Her presence on the platform parted the moving crowd as she knelt down to pick up a small coin. She placed it in a purse with the others.
 
I last saw Maggie over two years ago. She was twenty-four then, just out of grad school. Two years ago for me was 2023, and now in 1931 she was at least forty years older. I checked over my shoulder before glancing at the small digital screen on my wrist. Ten minutes left. Maggie poked around in a cigarette butt receptacle. Every moment passing was another chance gone. 
 
“Maggie!” I jogged out from behind my hiding spot and waved a newspaper in the air. She turned. “My God…” I touched her coat. “You’re really real. And old." I laughed. "But John can fix that once we get back."
 
Maggie recoiled from me and clutched her coat. 
 
“Devil!” she screamed, swinging her bag at my head.
 
I held my arms up. “Maggie, it’s Thomas.”
 
The second impact hit me in the teeth. I tasted leather and braced for another impact.
 
“So sorry, sir.” A young man in a suit ran up to us and grabbed Maggie’s thin arm.
 
“What happened to her?" Damn what happened in Constantinople. God forgive me for my mistake.
 
“She’s mad, sir. We take them out for walks now and again. Two years, you said? Ms. Downes hasn’t had a visitor in the fifteen years she’s been with us.” The man squinted through his glasses over his long nose. “What was your relationship to Ms. Downes, sir?”
 
“She’s my wi… grandmother.”
 
The man tilted his head. “Your name?”
 
“Thomas Downes.”
 
Maggie began to shake. “No!” she yelled, "It’s the man in the coat! Check his wrist, Dr. Charles!" I held my hands behind my back while the doctor restrained her once more. 
 
"I don’t know what’s going on here," said Dr. Charles, "but my patient only gets out once a week, and you’re upsetting her during this rare time.” The man looked me up and down, studying my clothes that did not quite match the style of others in the station. I kicked myself for thinking 50’s trousers would be enough to disguise me. John always says, Never skip the details.  “And to be frank, you’re beginning to upset me." He took Maggie around the shoulder, leading her to the approaching train.
 
“Wait, you don’t understand, I just have a few minutes left. Please, I can never come back!” Some heads turned in our direction.
 
“Thank God for that.” Dr. Charles took Maggie by the arm and walked her toward a platform. I watched them board, hoping to see Maggie turn back, to give any indication that she remembered the life we had together. All the...time we experienced together. But she didn’t, and I fought every urge to go after her.
 
“Love you, Maggie,” I mumbled, watching her go.


Submitted: May 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Emmett Burgess. All rights reserved.

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