This story is by Tracy Woodfield and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
It’s Wednesday and winter but today the finally sun peeps out from behind dark clouds. It’s all the encouragement I need to put my pen down and leave my warm office. There’s a wonderful coffee shop not far from here that does amazing savory muffins – the perfect treat. I can take the shortcut across the park. It’s only half a block away.
A few people are out and about as I walk through the park, passing the rows of benches. Most of them like me are walking as quickly as possible.
Well, except for a young man, stood in the middle of the path. It’s odd the way people are walking around him, as if he isn’t there. I guess that’s what grabs my attention. Finally he moves off to a bench facing the pond.
There’s a stillness about him that draws me in and I find myself diverted. Maybe he needs help. I feel compelled to make sure he’s okay. So I walk across, stand by the seat and follow his gaze.
The dirty blue pond water looks uninviting – cold and frozen. There are no birds and no hint of the life and colour that spring will bring. As the sun hides behind a rogue cloud, I shiver.
“It’s cold,” the boy says, suddenly, turning to face me.
I agree with a half- smile, surprised at his unnaturally brilliant blue eyes. “Are you waiting for someone?’
“Yes,” the boy nods, seriously. “You.”
“Yes, I was watching you cross the park.”
I’m conscious of unease and my mind flashes to internet stories of young deviants … I give myself a mental shake. It’s unlikely. “Watching me?”
“Yes. I’m Constantine Brown – Con, for short.”
“Alison.” I didn’t offer my second name.
“I know. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Words are cheap and not reassuring. “Why me?”
Con doesn’t answer. He’s looking past me. “I’d sit down if I were you. That couple think you’re mad – talking to thin air.”
“But I’m talking to you.”I follow his gaze and see an elderly couple looking at me in concern. They begin to walk over hesitantly.
“Are you okay dear? You seem a little distressed,” the woman asks, her eyes searching my face with concern.
“I’m fine – thanks. Just talking to…” I glance back at Constantine.
The couple follow my gaze then look back at me blankly.
“To who, dear?” The woman nervously retreats, sharing a worried look with her husband. “There’s no one there.”
“Yes ther…” I started.
Con interrupts, “they can’t see or hear me. Only you can.”
“Great, you’re a figment of my imagination.”
Oh Crap! I said that outloud.
Con grins cheekily.
I ignore him and school my face into what I hope is a reassuringly sane expression and smile at the elderly couple. “I’m fine, really. Thanks.”
They don’t look convinced but after staring at me for a while, they leave.
I turn to Constantine. “And WHY can’t they see you?”
“The more people that see me the more likely I could disrupt timelines and that’s not allowed.”
“Timelines?” I sit down, feeling like a Alice fallen down some strange rabbit hole.
“Yes, timeslines. Obviously, you know I’m not human. You are Alison Amanda Brook, right?”
“Who did you expect? Wonder Woman?”
“No just,” he waved his hand at me dismissively, “you’re nothing out of the ordinary. You’re just a human. I don’t get it. I thought maybe when you were young you were different.”
“Different than what?”
“Different- enough to explain why Dad fell in love and married you. I mean you’re okay but,” Constantine explained, “my Mum was beautiful and charismatic. You’re so ordinary.”
Okay, so I had been the quiet girl at school that caused no problems. I was your ordinary college student with average grades but I really drew the line at “soooo ordinary”.
“Why would he marry you?”
“No idea. Never met your father.” Heck, I don’t even have a boyfriend. Sam and I split up two weeks ago. I wasn’t looking for a new relationship yet.
“You will. Dad said he met you in a park and it was love at first sight.” Constantine looked irritated as if I’d failed to grasp something important. “My Dad’s a Timemaster and I borrowed his Traveler so I could come back, see the younger you but you look just the same.”
“You’re one weird kid.”
“You marry my father.” He insisted earnestly. “And don’t get me wrong,” he added hurriedly, “I really like you but I don’t get it.”
I shake my head in disbelief. “You’re saying you’ve come back in time to see me ‘cos in the future I marry your Dad.”
Nah, that kind of handsome I didn’t attract.
The bellow could be heard across the park. But no one else in the park seemed to hear it and it was loud enough to wake the dead. Guess I was the only one privileged then, well apart from Con that is. He definitely heard it.
On the path, a man literally just appears. Tall with blond hair, he strides towards us, his eyes fixed on the kid. From the way Con was shrinking in on himself, I didn’t need to be a genius to guess this was Dad.
“WHAT have I told you about using my Traveler?” The man demands angrily.
“I’m sorry Dad, I ….”
“I just hope you haven’t done any-“ His father interrupts, looking around.
Our eyes met. The sight of me seems to surprise him. His eyes widened, his anger seems to vanish. Suddenly he smiles and holds out his hand. “Hi, I’m Jonathan Brown. I guess you’ve met my son, Con. Hope he hasn’t been bothering you.”
His smile was dazzling.
“No,confusing me.” I admit, shaking his hand. “Sorry – Alison Brook. I was just going to get a coffee.”
“May I join you? My treat. I’ve been told there’s a great coffee shop just across the park.”