Eve sat, staring at the waitress as she scurried away to the kitchen. Then to the others, “What is she talking about?”
Claire’s voice sounded soft and compassionate as she began, “Eve, there’s something we have to tell you. And please, hear us out.” She shot a glance at Rachel and continued, “The newspaper you brought the other night. It was dated 2045.”
Rachel fumbled in her pocket and pulled out her wallet. Opening it, she pulled out her driver’s license and handed it to Eve. “Eve, look at the date on this.” She was still undecided about the time warp theory, but knew how much Claire needed her. Undecided, funny thing to think. Does that mean that I might actually buy into the crazy notion?
As Eve inspected the writing on the card, Claire continued, “We don’t understand how this can be, but we’re convinced of it. We’ll give you what time you need to get through the shock, but we have questions for you, about your history, about the war you speak of. We want to know anything, everything we can.”
Eve sat in silence for some time, her stare fixed on Rachel’s driving card. She finally stood and walking around the room, found the newspaper stand. Pulling the top newsprint from the stack, she stood, reading the headlines, dates. Her hand covered her mouth, all eyes seemed to be on her.
“Eve, let me help you back to your seat.” Donna had her arm around her and they walked. She gently eased her back down where she again sat next to Claire, across from Rachel.
“Donna,” Claire started her question.
Holding her hand up to stop Claire, Donna said, “It just is.” She left them in her usual brisk style.
“What does that mean? It just is?” Claire looked at Rachel for some intellectual insight, but got nothing.
“Are you trying to tell me that the two of you are time travelers?”
Rachel laughed, but redeemed herself quickly, “Eve, we believe it’s you who is the time traveler.” She looked toward the kitchen, “And Donna is the only one of us who understands, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to get anything out of her.”
Claire reached over, placing her hand on Eve’s, “What did you mean that Friday is Constitution Day? What does that event represent, Eve?”
“What’s with Donna? She’s forbidden me to leave through the front entrance every time I’ve been here, but now it’s ok. What does that mean?”
Rachel asked her, “What’s happened to your world since Thursday night, Eve?”
“My world? What kind of question is that, Rachel?”
Claire tried again, “Eve. Granted, Rachel and I have had time to digest this, but I don’t think we have a lot of time for questions we can’t answer. What we need to do is tell each other about the lives we live outside of this coffee house. Please, Eve. We need your help.”
Eve was confused, but began telling about her world, “Constitution Day is the day our forefathers signed into law our country’s make-up. It’s the beginning of life as we know it. It defines the common wealth areas, the ghettos for the lower races, the…”
“What do you mean the lower races?”
Eve glanced at Claire, “The township people, of course.”
Rachel motioned for Claire to keep silent so she could ask her questions. “What year was this constitution signed, Eve? What date are you celebrating on Friday?”
Eve laughed. “Rachel, 2015 of course. The beginning of our history as a nation.”
“What do you mean the beginning of your history? What happened before this time?”
“Before June 1, 2015? No one knows. It’s not documented, Claire. I used to question it, but I don’t anymore. Obviously, there was something. Look at me, I’m 42 years old. I was 12 when this happened. But I can’t tell you anything about that time, I’ve forgotten it all.” She smiled at Claire and Rachel. “By the looks of it, the two of you would be somewhere in your 60’s in my world, as you put it. But I don’t know if you exist there, I haven’t seen you on TV, Rachel. And Claire, there are no women Senators. So if you are in my world, I don’t know what you’re doing.” Eve lowered her head, pondering over their incredible story. It was a ludicrous suggestion.
Claire looked at Rachel, and then said to Eve, “Don’t you have internet? I mean, you should be able to Google history prior to 2015.”
“No, there isn’t any information before that time, our history starts then.”
Rachel added, “That would be easy, the country could regulate that, post misinformation.” She couldn’t believe what she was saying, this entire theory was too crazy to be true. But Claire, she had become so fragile. Yes, I am playing along for Claire, that’s what I’m doing.
“Oh my God.” Eve’s hand flew up to her forehead where she massaged a pain that shot through her head.
“What is it, Eve?” Claire knew it was too much for the woman to take in. They had to slow it down, let her get used to everything.
Eve ignored her, but instead, glanced down at the newspaper. She put her index finger on the date, all color had left her face. “June 1st is this Friday. If what you say is true, I’m looking at a paper that was written before time as I know it exists.” She then put her head back and laughed, she became silent and her expression became stern. “Ok, I’ve played your game. It’s time for the two of you to stop this. You must think I’m a fool, and your cruelness is beyond comprehension. We have real problems, people are being killed in the streets. And yet, here we are having coffee and scones in this sweet little shop talking about… about what? Are you writing a book?” She turned to Rachel. “Is this some kind of experiment?” The look on her face was full of contempt. “We have people killing each other, there is an outright war going on and our country is destroying itself. So tell me, ladies. What on earth is this all about?”
The front door of the café blew open and Bill walked through the door. Spotting Claire with Rachel brought a broad smile to his face. He marched over to their table and looked down at them while addressing Claire. “So is this how you handle your damage control, Claire?” He laughed. “My wife has taken pills, she died earlier this evening. This just doesn’t want to go away, does it?” He turned to Eve and put his hand out to her. “Now, who might you be?”
The look of horror on her face even threw Bill off, “Cat got your tongue?” He withdrew his hand and stormed out.
“What is it, Eve? What’s wrong?” Both Claire and Rachel were asking the same question. But their answer was a gurgling sound that came out of Eve’s throat, a terrifying sound that frightened them both.
Finally she rose and looked down at them. She spoke in a strange, almost whisper, “I believe you now. I have my proof.” She turned to look where Bill had exited from. “That man, I know him from our history books. He’s one of our founding fathers. That man is William Hancock, one of the four who signed our Constitution. That man is one of the monster’s that made my country what it is today.” She turned and ran to the back of the café and disappeared through the wall as she had done each night before. Not thinking about the danger she was walking into, forgetting that she could finally leave through the front door.
Rachel sat in silence while watching the scene. When Eve was gone, she turned to Claire, her eyes screaming at her with her new understanding. She could barely get the words out, but finally said, “I’m sorry, Claire. I’m sorry it took me so long to be with you.”
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