Nora arrived at a small coffee shop in the city at precisely 1pm. As she rounded the entrance, Nora saw Scott waving her over to a table outside under an orange umbrella. Nora sat down and ordered black coffee, Scott didn’t order anything.
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“So, Scott,” Nora broke the silence.
“So, Nora?” Scott returned.
“I’ll cut right to the chase,” Nora lowered her voice, “did you arrive back in time in 1988?”
Scott laughed heartily, “not exactly.”
Nora’s lips quivered angrily. Why was he making her out to be a fool? He recognized her, didn’t he? She pinched her napkin in one hand to stop her hands from shaking.
“You know who I am, right?” Nora stared into Scott’s distinctive almond shaped brown eyes.
“Yes,” Scott said calmly.
“Then, why? But—”
“Shh, Nora calm down,” Scott interrupted. “This isn’t what you think it is.”
“Um, I am fairly sure that the plane crash caused time travel.”
“Sort of. Nora, 2009 is still occurring for you.”
“I don’t really know how to explain this, 1988, 1989 and all of the years after and before always exist. They are essentially never over. You are still living in 2009, but you are also still living in 1988, 1995 and 2001 etc.. as well. You are just consciously aware of this state at this time.”
Nora’s eyes widened, “why?”
“Why was your consciousness transferred? Well I am partly responsible for that. You see, life wasn’t all you expected it to be and you didn’t know why. I simply, ‘flipped a switch’ so you could see what went wrong.”
“You did what?” Nora was fuming, “why would you separate me and my kids like that?”
“You’re not listening; you are still in 2009 with them. I wouldn’t punish them for any reason. You didn’t die on the plane, it just shook around, and everyone survived. They know nothing else, you are exactly the same to them.”
“What about Lucas?”
“Well, he will always exist, just not in the 2009 you are in already with your other kids.”
“So basically after this I will never see him again?”
“Nora, there isn’t an after this.”
“You will live in this state until you die, then your consciousness will be transferred to another existence.”
“I want to see my kids again.” Nora’s chest tightened.
“You have them now.”
“Not the ones I know,” Nora said.
“I know you feel lost, but this is how it has to be.”
“Just ‘flip your switch’ and send me back to my conscience before.”
“I’m not allowed to switch these whenever I want. It isn’t up to me.”
“That’s not important. Listen, you need to focus on realizing what went wrong in your life.”
“What is the point? I can’t even go back and change it.”
“You’re right, you can change it now.”
“I can change the future?”
“You can change this future.”
“So no matter what I do now, it won’t affect my life in 2009?”
“Exactly, that’s not connected to now. You are essentially living your life over. You can make it whatever you like. You don’t have to end up the same unhappily divorced woman, or you can, it is all up to you.”
“So Sydney and Olivia will still end up the same people as they are in my alternate future?”
“Not necessarily, if you parent them in a different way, they may mature separately than their alternate selves. Say you didn’t conceive Ian on the exact day that you did back then, he will still exist somewhere. You aren’t erasing anyone.”
“Say I predicted the terrorist attacks of 2001, will it change the future?”
“It will change this future, but they will still happen somewhere in the universe. Something that happened will always happen, somewhere.” Scott looked slightly annoyed.
“Does this ever stop?”
“Once the ‘switch’ is flipped it’s permanent. You will continue to be thrown around to different existences.”
“I will never die?”
“Oh you’ll die, but not in the sense you’re thinking of. Your conscience will always exist in at least one time somewhere always. For example, your physical body will die at age 59 in your prior existence.”
“So I only have limited time left?” Nora panicked.
“No, that was your prior existence, it is not connected to this one. The way you treat your body this time around affects how you will physically die in this reality. You can die at any age in your alternate lives.”
“There isn’t anyway that I can end this?”
“Well, no, I mean. It isn’t up to you. It’s not your choice.”
“Whose choice is it, Scott?”
“A larger force, I’m not even sure I can explain it.”
“Try,” Nora clenched her teeth.
“I was appointed, I guess is how you would say, to ‘flip the switch’ for some and not for others. There are others like me. No one person appointed me in particular. I just knew one day that I had this ‘power’. From then on, I never aged; I can jump through time. It is all my responsibility. You won’t stop switching consciousness until your universal force is in alignment. It needs to be perfect. You need to find your niche in the universe.”
“I don’t follow, who else does this happen to?”
“Mostly everyone, unless of course they get it right on the first time.”
“How will I know when I’ve found my niche?”
“You will just know.”
“Could this time around be the perfect fit?”
“Probably not, but it is possible.”
“Don’t you know these things, haven’t you seen the future?”
“You’re not understanding my job. I’m not a psychic. I just ‘flip the switch’ I don’t decide where you belong.”
“Do I die when I find my niche?”
“You just, you will just have to wait and see, Nora.”
“I can’t do that, I need answers!” Nora slammed her hand on the table.
“I have to go now, I will see you in another life.” Scott got up from the table and walked away. Nora stood up forcefully and yelled at him as he continued to walk.
“Scott, don’t you dare walk away! Scott! You bastard!”
Nora turned and looked around at the café’s other guests. Most of their mouths were open in surprise at Nora’s outburst. Nora spun around to see Scott get into his car but he was gone.