I’m still two days behind the prompts, having missed a couple of days along the way, but I’m happily not feeling stressed about it at all.
—I arrive in a slightly chilly living room that I have never seen before, in the dark. There’s art on the walls—no, wait, it looks like they’re being displayed by the walls. Some kind of… future technology? Photos flicker, drifting across the walls, though they pause and rotate for easier viewing when I get close and look at them directly. So many smiling faces, so many people I can see are good, kind, important to whoever it is that…
Of course, it’s me. And this is the future, then. I’m afraid to look out the window, but I do look around the room for a moment, wondering where the journal is. I go over to the desk in the corner: there’s no computer there, nothing to write on. I glance at the wall again, and think, Of course there isn’t. Everyrthing’s a computer now, right? Then I notice a post-it note on the wall, in a spot all the moving images seem to avoid. I walk over and read the code on the post-it note: it looks like some kind of password or accesscode.
Then photos suddenly slip away from the center of the wall, and the image of shaky handwriting appears, scrawling across the wall as a voice narrates the words to me. My own voice, but… older.
“I’m happy I waited for you. I hid this where I remembered we’d found it. You want to know about our life? I’m not going to tell you. But I have a gift for you, because there’s something we learn how to do. Say our name.”
I do as I’m told, and… wow. It all comes in at such a rush, a flood of information, but I can see two faces now. One, I recognize from my imagination. When we started dating, my wife commented about looking forward to being an old lady, a smiling and happy old woman, and I imagined it. And somehow she looks a lot like I imagined, those laugh lines worn deep into her face when she smiles. And… our son. My breath stops in my throat as I see him, all grown up, an adult now, face serious but calm and somehow clearly content.
There are tears running down my cheeeks. We made it through everything: this pandemic, the chaos, the upheavals I know must have shattered the world we knew… I can see the marks of that chaos, too, the concern lines, the worry, but… we busted through, at least as far as… what year is this? Where are we? I know, the date and the place where this apartment is located are on the tip of my tongue, but then they begin to slip away, the warmth, the joy, the exhaustion and the hope that still fills us.
I peel off the post-it note, and behind it there’s another. It reads:
“Featherstone, take a note.”
I read the the line aloud, and a blank square appears on the surface of the wall before me, a dark cursor blinking at the top right corner. As I speak, my own words appear before me.
I…. wow. I’m sure your secrecy is warranted, right? Paradox, maybe?
I… I’m teary-eyed. Do you remember all this now?
Thank you for doing everything you did to get them here safely. You’ve given me hope, and faith. You know I really needed that right now, huh?
It’s true. We’ve talked about leaving this place where we live, making the big move. Once the pandemic is over, we agreed. When will that be? But now I know: we can do it, we need to do it. We… will do it. But to where…?
My silence seems to have been cue enough for the wall to stop taking dictation: now it’s reading back my message to me. I take a single step toward the window, looking for whatever button will draw the shades aside so I can get some clue about where we end up, when suddenly, in a rushing wave, I feel myself scooped gently up out of time and once again adrift, this time moving upstream.
I sniff, rub my eyes, and try to hold onto the memory of my little boy as a full grown adult, my wife as a happy 할머니 as I hurtle across time.