This is a work of fiction.
My phone beeped.
“Do you mind if I check to see who’s texting?”
Louisa gestured for me to go ahead.
I took the phone from my purse, being careful that the package of cigarettes didn’t show.
Stacey: I’m leaving him. I’m at the airport now.
Mom: What’s going on?
Stacey: I gave some ticket agent my wedding ring and he made sure I got a seat. I’m just looking for my bags, and then I’m taking a taxi home.
Mom: Oh, Stacey, why didn’t you call me?
Stacey: Because I didn’t have anything to say. Would you mind keeping the kids for another week? I need to find a job.
Mom: Yes, I can do that, but I really wish you’d called me.
Stacey: Like I said, I had nothing to say. So you can keep the kids?
Keep them? As if they were some kind of goods?
Stacey didn’t usually act like that, nor did she often ask the same question twice.
Mom: Yes, I can look after the kids.
Stacey: Can you keep them until school starts? That way, I can find an apartment for us. How long can you keep Lydia for? I don’t know when Chuck will get his act together and come pick her up.
Mom: Lydia and the boys can stay with me as long as they want.
Tilly came and sat beside me.
Oh, right. I needed to tell Stacey about the pets.
I typed a long message telling her about going to get the pets and then about the funeral for Popeye.
Stacey: We won’t be able to keep them. We can’t afford food and vet bills, and besides, we’ll be in a tiny apartment. You should have waited. I guess the animal shelter won’t like it, but pets are the last thing the boys and I need right now.
Mom: All of you can live with me if necessary.
Stacey: No, that won’t be happening. I’ll find a job, a place, and then I’ll come get the boys. I have a number for Chuck’s ex, and you can also call Chuck himself. Hopefully one of them can take Lydia off your hands. I have to go. I’ll text you if anything happens.
What a mess, but it was time to deal with the time machine.
I put my phone away and turned to Louisa.
“Why did you call us? We don’t know anybody in LA. Was it just to talk to somebody about this? Personally, I think um . . . don’t think a time machine is a good idea. Maybe the future you saw isn’t really what the future will be. Maybe it’s just one possibility. I think you should turn it off and we should all go home.”
I realized I sounded slightly patronizing, but the whole thing made no sense, except it did, in a macabre sort of way.
“I called you because I can’t change the future on my own.”
“I don’t believe this is really a time machine.”
“I’m going to take you into the past and show you it really is a time machine.”
“Why not the future?” Freckles asked.
“Because you’ll need time to go to LA, check itno a hotel, and find some way to stop that man from going to that party.”