Torn between two people -- the woman he married one summer after a very brief courtship and the troubled male student who lusted after him for years. Some might call Jacob’s feelings selfish. But he knew three things for certain. He truly loved them both, they all loved one another, and the two of them were taken from him and this world much too soon.
Science fiction has claimed for decades there is a way to manipulate the years, the days, the hours to our whim. Jacob, left alone with so much of his life ahead of him, becomes obsessed with figuring out how. Even if he can change the laws of time, he isn’t certain past events can be reversed and, if they can, what it might mean in terms of being with either one of the two who captured his heart, now or in some other realm.
Can Jacob recapture any of the time he lost with either Wendy or Rory? Or is it possible he might somehow find both the man and the woman he loves again in another time?
“How are you feeling?” Jacob asked.
“I’m sorry,” Wendy said. She was home, in her own bed for her final days. They wouldn’t make it past their five year anniversary. They’d barely made that. The cancer that would keep them from having children, that they battled together over most of their married life, was finally about to win.
“Don’t you dare be.”
“I wish ...” Speaking was a bit of a struggle.
“What do you wish?”
“That you ... could have been with Rory.”
“What?” Jacob’s heart nearly stopped before hers did, “Wendy ... I ... I’m sorry if I disappointed you.”
“I love you as much ...” He couldn’t even put a measure to it. “As much as it’s possible to love.”
She stopped to cough, and Jacob wished he could take away the cancer, the pain, the doubt. “I wouldn’t give up a moment we had,” he told her sincerely. “Not one. I’d give anything for more.”
“You loved him the same way, Jacob. You would have. I know. I found the sketch. You held onto it. I bet you still do.”
Yes. He still had it.
“If things were different ... The world .... If the world was different back then ...”
“Back then wasn’t so long ago. And I would marry you, still.”
“Definitely. All over again.”
“Maybe this world’s the same then, but we’ve changed. Maybe I know you better. I want you to do it differently next time.”
“Stop.” Jacob stood, but Wendy took his arm. She was fragile, her long brunette hair gone, her voluptuous body ravaged. Her face was still as beautiful, though, her dark eyes as sweet and kind as always. Jacob could have gotten away. Her grasp was weak, but he let her keep him there.
“If there is a next time, Jacob, another chance ... another plane, like you’ve always thought, we might end up with other people.”
He tried to smile. “Like in heaven?” He tried to make her. “Are you telling me you’re going to be with Da Vinci or Gauguin when I join you up there?”
“I’m talking about you. And you know what I mean. You’ve been obsessed with it since before I met you, everything from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to Dr. Who to Slaughterhouse Five. Every movie, every book, fiction, and nonfiction. I mean however you can. Before heaven, I hope. Don’t you still?”
Sometimes Jacob didn’t only hope, sometimes he believed.
“You’re so young,” Wendy said. “He was. If life offers second chances, I want you and Rory to have one.”
“Me and Rory?”
“We’ve had our time. As short as it was. Who even knows if there’s a heaven?”
“You were always so sure of it before.” If there was ever a time Jacob wanted to believe in heaven, it was now.
“I still am, Mr. Science.” She almost smiled then. “You’ll see. I expect us to be together there someday. Maybe the three of us ... Huh?”
There was no doubting the context of the wink in her weak tone. “Wendy Wright!”
She held her grin, as difficult as it was. “Does that shock you? After so many years, you don’t know how I think?”
Jacob brushed her upturned lips. “Maybe I do.”
“Maybe you do.”
“You little rascal.” He kissed her again as the mantel clock chimed the hour. The damned thing was a menace of late. Tick. Tick. Tick. All day, every day. The last thing Jacob wanted to think about right then, with Wendy slipping away from him, was the passage of time.