“Don’t you think it would make more sense to move the robot over to the other corner, out of the way?”, the dark haired woman said as she moved her newborn baby boy to the other shoulder and continued patting his back. “Whatever you say, honey!”, her husband said as he eagerly moved the robot over to the newly preferred corner.
Tyler was just so excited to be a dad and to be moving into their first home. Lucy was just as excited as he was, but she was far more logical and precise than Tyler was. She wanted everything in their new home to make sense and function the way she had it all planned in her mind. Tyler on the other hand, could move and rearrange things for years to come and not be bothered by the constant change.
“Luce!”, Tyler called from the front door. “The hover-car is making that strange noise again. The moment it lifts off the parking platform it sputters and all the lights turn on and off before it stabilizes.”, he continues as he brings in the groceries. Lucy smiled and called for the robot, “Zelador-X700”. The robot lit up from the horizontal bar that stretched across the top of its face, where on a human the eyes would sit.
It lifted from the tile floor where it rested and made its way to Lucy. “Please handle Bennie for me while I fix the hover-car”, she said as she handed over the baby to the outstretched, metal arms in front of her. Zelador-X700 softly cradled the newborn against its newly installed padded chest where Bennie snuggled in.
Tyler followed Lucy out to the parking platform where the hover-car sat silently. Tyler hopped into the top compartment where the driver sat. The passengers sat below where there was enough room for an entire hot tub if they wanted it, something their neighbor had just installed in theirs. As he started the engine, the vehicle rose from the platform, sputtered and just as he had described, all of the lights turned on and off before settling.
Lucy examined the scene and poked around the engine until she could identify the problem. The car would have to be flipped upside down (a major issue with installing the hot tub passenger level as you can imagine) and open up all of the wiring panels. She would have to wake up the miniature Zelador’s, known as the Zelador-Xminis. These came in handy especially when in need to reach small spaces, just like the hover-cars’ engine.
The garage was the first space in their new home to become organized. Lucy would not have it any other way. She worked out of the space so often that it had to be orderly and a place she could easily find everything she needed. The Zelador-Xminis were on the highest shelf that reached the ceiling of the garage. Lucy swiftly kicked on the LLP, or Lifting Ladder Platform, balanced on either side of the oval shaped hover-board and urged it to lift her up about five feet from the garage floor.
Once there, she kicked on the freeze mode function with the heel of her foot so that when she shifted her balance to reach for her tools the LLP would not go flying in another direction. Something her husband, Tyler has forgotten to do on occasion.
The tool box where the mini Zeladors’ were sitting in their sleeping positions was in sight but as she pulled up in the handle of the box her hand slipped and hit the ceiling panel hard enough to split the skin on her knuckles. She retracted her hand quickly and assessed the damage done. There was a bit of blood but nothing she couldn’t bandage up quickly until Zelador-X700 could heal the wound with her curing laser function. Something they were especially excited to install once they found out they were pregnant with Bennie.
She noticed that there was also a small crack in the ceiling panel where a few spots of her blood had already stained. There was something sitting just above the crack that she could barely see. The heel of her foot found its way to the freeze mode and kicked it again, softly, so that she felt the LLP react to her weight and shift in balance once again. She urged it up about another foot and a half until she could comfortably lift the panel and retrieve whatever was sitting just on top of it.
Freeze mode was once again back on and she could step slightly more to one side of the board to get a good grip on the box and pull it down from the ceiling, making a much larger crack in the panel, eventually just removing it altogether. In cursive handwriting the box had the number 2020 written on it.
She sat on the still hovering LLP with her legs dangling off either side as if she were sitting on a surfboard. Tyler opened the door to the garage and as it slid upward into the ceiling he stepped through to find his wife bleeding and sitting on the LLP looking disoriented. “Luce! What happened, are you okay?”, he said as he rushed over and urged her to land the LLP back onto the platform.
As she headed down back toward the garage floor she explained to him what had just happened and that she found a box with the number 2020 on it. Together, they checked on the sleeping Bennie, asked the refrigerator to begin making them lunch and sat at the table against the large window overlooking their front yard. The box was filled with letters and what looked to be diary entries. Each began with the title, “Year 2020”.
“This would have been over 990 years ago. There is no way this house was even here at that time, Luce.”, Tyler said frantically. “I know, I figured the same, but look, it's here and it says what it says.”, replied Lucy. The entries were heartbreaking. Written words of a long forgotten illness that was barely touched on in the schools history classes anymore, hate-crimes that purged throughout the entire world, dictatorships and revelations of previous world order organizations that caused masses to have to band together in a way they had never done before.
One of the letters mentioned that it felt like it was something they would have learned about happening hundreds of years ago, not something they would have to navigate now.
Lucy picked up one folded letter that had an old picture in it. She held it up close to examine its contents and noticed something vaguely familiar about the kitchen background. As she handed it to Tyler, something happened.
They both began gasping for breath when they realized they were sitting in the same spot of their home but it looked completely different. “Tyler, where are we?”, Lucy said as she looked around the oddly familiar space. They both took turns slowly moving throughout the dark grey kitchen that had dishes piling up in the sink and empty lysol cans pouring out of their garbage. They could hear someone shuffling into the kitchen and the click of an old television set. Urgently they grabbed each other's hands and tried to hide the best they could.
An older woman, in her seventies came into the kitchen with gloves on and an empty bowl. The couple watched as she set the bowl against the stack of dirty dishes and began to silently sob. She shakily took the gloves off and set them to the side of the counter where the couple now stood, completely unseen.
The woman put her hands together, “Please, if any higher power is listening, please let me wake up from this dream. They say I cannot see my children or my grandchildren. I cannot go outside, I am scared to leave my house. I am not ready to die. Please help me wake up from this nightmare.”
Lucy and Tyler looked at the photo and realized this is the exact space they had transported to. In this poor old woman's kitchen where she is crying and praying that she wake up from a bad nightmare. The couple both take hold of the photograph and suddenly they are back at their table. They run as fast as they can over to the floating crib that is rocking Bennie as he sleeps. With a sigh of relief they make their way back to the table.
“Did you hear the news that the television was playing in the background?”, Lucy asked. “About the illness and the stay at home order?”, Tyler replied. “And the death toll…”, Lucy added. Tyler slid the box toward him this time and started shuffling papers around until he found another piece of paper folded with a picture inside of it. This time the picture was in one of the bedrooms. They both held the photo tight and found themselves back in the old, despondent home that once stood in the same place theirs now resides.
This time there is a hissing noise of oxygen, a bedside trash can filled with tissues, some containing spots of blood, and the television on with bar graphs and masks and reporters outside the Whitehouse.
A younger woman wearing two masks, a face-shield and gloves comes into the room with bowls of matzo ball soup for the two elderly women in the bed, both temporarily lifting their oxygen masks to drink as much of the soup as they can stand. The younger woman keeps her distance but you can clearly see her face-shield fogging up with her incessant tears. Lucy stares up at Tyler and slowly puts the photograph in his hand.
As soon as they are back at the table the couple forces themselves into a saddened embrace. Each sob into each other's arms and share a moment of recognition for one another and the fact that no day is guaranteed.
As Lucy grabs another photograph Tyler stops her and asks, “Are you sure, Luce? I have a feeling it's not going to get any better.” Lucy nods her head, “I know, but I feel we have a responsibility to finish their story.” Tyler puts his forehead to Lucy’s and takes hold of the picture. This time the picture is facing a kitchen nook with a stack of papers on the table, looking out the window at hundreds of people with signs marching along the street.
Lucy and Tyler jump back at the noise inside the small kitchen where they are accompanied by the same young woman in the previous picture, a lawyer of some sort and what looked like endless paperwork that the young woman was signing. Still with tears rolling down her face, seemingly trying her hardest to ignore what was going on outside. The kitchen was quiet but the sounds outside were incredible.
“Black Lives Matter!”, “I Can’t Breathe!”, “Say Her Name!”, was being courageously chanted throughout the streets by hundreds of people bravely carrying on these words. It was as if you could hear the stomp of their feet. Like their words were not the only thing that was going to penetrate the sound barriers. You would not just hear them but you would feel them and their presence. And their presence would remain long after these justice warriors went home for the night.
Tyler grabbed Lucy’s hand and without words they both knew what they were thinking. These were the very people who made it possible for the couple to have such an accepted and understanding relationship. These were the people who would make it possible for Bennie, their mixed-race son to be able to grow up in a world where representation mattered and people were held accountable for their actions. A world where Lucy and Tyler did not have to fear for the life of their son if Bennie one day wanted to go out for a run, or make a stop at a convenience store, or even fall asleep next to his future partner after a long day at work.
But these things weren't talked about anymore. The world just was this better version of what it used to be. "Do you think anyone really know the extent of what happened during this time?", Lucy asked. "I certainly never learned about this in school, at least not to this magnitude", Tyler responded. "Why would they stop sharing such monumental history?", Lucy questioned once more.
They made their way over to the television that seemed to never stop playing the news. They stood there, unseen by anyone else in the lonely, quiet house. They stood and listened and watched the protests that were growing and continuing to fill the country and soon the world.
Lucy opened the palm of her hand and with a specific pattern of finger movements a holographic image appeared in front of them. Tyler clicked the camera icon and they stood side by side looking straight into the camera with the crowd of heroes in the background. The camera snapped and they were back at their table in their new home.
Tyler opened up the holographic picture they had just taken. They both admired it for a while until Lucy realized there was something hanging out of her husband's pocket in the picture. “What is that in your pocket, Tyler?”. He zoomed in the image to have a better look as he simultaneously reached into the left pocket of his pants.
“Tyler! Did you take one of the masks from their house?”, Lucy said in shock as Tyler held up the disposable blue and white mask that was stuffed into his pocket. “I would never!”, he said slightly chuckling at his wife's assumption that this would have been his time traveling souvenir. “Whoever wanted us to visit their story must have planned for the time traveler to take this piece of history with them”, he added.
Lucy took the mask into her hands and flipped it over to reveal a handwritten message. "History will repeat itself."
The couple exchanged understanding glances and called over Bennies’ floating crib. “The lost history of our heroes will start with you”, Tyler said softly to the sleeping baby. “And from there we will share it with everyone”, Lucy added.
“Tyler”, Lucy says, bringing the crumpled mask into the bedroom where her husband was getting ready for bed. “Was this the mask that the old woman was wearing in the photograph?”. Tyler quickly brushed it off and replied “There is no way, Luce”, and climbed into bed.
Lucy walked back to the table where the box still sat and fumbled through until she found the picture of the old women in the bed on their second visit. She noticed something that she hadn't seen before, in the pocket of the younger woman tending to the sick was a sharpie marker. The same that the message was written with. Upon a closer more frantic look she also noticed an old, crumpled mask that was held in the woman's gloved hand.
And almost immediately after Lucy's horrible understanding of the truth, from across the house, where Tyler laid in bed, she could hear the deep unmistakable, rattling cough that she recalled from when they stood in the bedroom of the two sick women right before their death 995 years ago.
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