short stories · Writing Samples

Early

The first thing she did when she landed was ask for the date. She was early. So early, in fact, that she hadn’t even set off yet. Seven years too early.

The Time-traveller sat down on the bank of a river and wondered where to go now that she had seven years to kill. She knew that if she tried to go home she’d find it full of strangers, because her past self hadn’t yet moved in. She thought about going back to her own time and re-trying, but was worried she’d miss it again or that it wouldn’t work this time. It was better to be seven years too early than to miss it completely. Perhaps she’d have to just wait.

“Hungry?” she looked up to see an elderly woman standing on the opposite side of the river.

She was, actually.

The old woman smiled at her hesitation, “You look a little lost. I packed an extra egg and cress sandwich if you’d like one?”

“Are you sure?” the Time-traveller asked. After all, those were her favourite. The woman nodded and began to walk towards the river, rummaging about in her bag. Before the Time-traveller could say anything she had taken a proud and confident step into the river, splashing through it towards her.

“Wait!” she called, running to her own side of the riverbank. “I’m sure there’s a bridge, if you just-”

“Oh, I know there’s a bridge, dear, but I’ve never been one for conventional travel, come here.”

The Time-traveller stepped in to the river to meet the old woman half-way.

“You really don’t have to do this, I’m just…”

“Early?” the old woman finished. “Yes I thought so. Seven years this time, isn’t it? We never were one for timely arrivals.” She laughed at the look of shock on the Time-traveller’s face. “You didn’t think this was the first and last time we’d come back here, did you?”

The Time-traveller took the sandwich from herself and suddenly understood. “They say you can’t stand in the same river twice,” she looked down at their feet.

“Yes,” the Future Time-traveller agreed. “But we always saw that as a bit of a challenge now, didn’t we?”
via Daily Prompt: Timely

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