Today’s post is something of a milestone. It marks the 20th short story to be uploaded on to my blog! Well, technically it is the 16th, but due to a bit of a cock-up by yours truly it ended up being sent to the lovely Esther Newton and was first published on her blog on 29th January 2016. I had marked it for use in a flash fiction competition, but I was happy for Esther to use it and my mistake did make me laugh! But anyway, I’ve recently remembered that I didn’t post it on here so tonight I am doing just that. I hope you enjoy it if you haven’t read it already!
Also, please check out Esther’s blog! https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/
Where Were You?
By Adam Dixon
“Hush, my darling,” Sylvia crooned, stroking his thick, curled hair as he sobbed into her chest. She and her fiancé had just finished making love, their bodies bathed in sweat and their mutual ecstasy fading. Seconds after its conclusion, Dion had gazed at Sylvia, his shining brown eyes filling with tears. She held him close, her heart aching at his sadness.
“I shan’t be gone for long, my love,” she whispered. “In fact, you will barely notice my absence. Doctor Jonas has assured me that I will return within hours of my departure.”
“But what if you don’t?” Dion’s head came up, and he fixed Sylvia with an imploring stare. “There are no guarantees with time travel, and you know it. Christ, Sylvie, you might not even make it back!”
“We both knew the risks when I accepted the mission, Dion,” Sylvia replied, her voice still gentle but with a stern edge. “We knew what could happen when the time came, and we were both prepared for it. Or at least, I thought we both were.” She gave him a reproachful look and cocked her head to one side. Long red hair spilled across her left shoulder and covered one of her breasts. Dion’s eyes followed her hair, and he reached out to tangle his fingers in it as he cupped her cheek.
“I know, I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just that now it’s finally here…I don’t know…I can’t bear the thought of never seeing you again.”
“But you will, Dion,” Sylvia said earnestly, running her hand across his dark forearm. “A few hours we will be apart; a few days at most. We’ve endured longer periods than that!”
“True,” Dion smiled weakly, brushing the tears from his eyes. “I’m just worried about you, I suppose. I’m sure you’re right.”
“I am,” Sylvia said, winking at him. “Doctor Jonas has calculated every possible outcome to a minute detail. He is certain that I will return to this very house, and in this very room! Now, hush.” She pulled him close to her and they lay down on the double bed, drawing warmth from each other’s bodies. Dion nuzzled her neck as he got comfortable, and closed his eyes with a sigh. Sylvia gently played with his short, wiry hair, recognising that he would soon be asleep. Before he slipped off, he mumbled something.
“What was that, my love?” Sylvia turned her head to hear him.
“I’ll wait for you…” he said, almost asleep. “I love you, Sylvie.”
“I love you too,” Slyvia whispered, a lump in her throat. She lay in the darkness with Dion’s arms around her, listening to his breathing as the tears rolled down her cheeks.
Sylvia stepped out of the time capsule, the air crackling with the surge of quantum energy. The floorboards vibrated beneath her feet from the burst of power. She glanced around her and smiled. The doctor had been correct; she was in her old bedroom! It was night-time, so perhaps just a few hours on from her departure if her luck was in. A snort of surprise nearby caused her to turn around. She saw an elderly black man sitting in a chair across the dark room, his eyes agape.
“Oh, I do apologise!” Slyvia rushed over to the man, resting a hand on his shoulder. “It is rather startling, isn’t it? I was warned that there may be a temporal shift upon my return! I do hope it didn’t shock you too much! Are you alright, sir?” The man stared at Sylvia, his eyes wide with astonishment. Sylvia began to feel uncomfortable.
“Yes, erm,” she said, unsure what to say. “I wonder, who are you, sir? You see, I was expecting to surprise someone else entirely tonight!” She smiled at the old man, hoping he would say something. He did, and it chilled her to the bone.
“You’re back…” he rasped. “I waited…so long.” Tears filled his rheumy, brown eyes and recognition hit Sylvia like a slap in the face.
“Dion!?” She cried in disbelief. “Dion, is that you? It can’t be!”
“I waited for you…Sylvie,” Dion stroked her hand with his wrinkled fingers and wept. Sylvia stood dumbstruck, the horror of the situation creeping into her like a virus.
“Dion…” she stammered. “I…but how long…how?”
“Where were you?” Dion repeated between sobs. “It’s been forty years! Where were you?!”
The white-haired old man wailed into the night, and Sylvia’s heart broke at the sound of it.