This is a work of fiction.
I shook my head.
“No. We’re not going to LA.”
“But you have to—”
I held up my hand.
“Stop right there. I’m responsible for four children, five cats, and two dogs. We’re not going to LA.”
“I want to go in the time machine,” Freckles said.
“No you don’t,” Sammy said.
“Yes I do!”
“We’re not going,” I said.
“Wait, please,” Louisa said.
“It’s time for dinner,” I said.
“I see you have food for the dogs and cats with you, so why don’t I feed them and you go and eat and then come back here.”
Was she so desperate for company that she was making this all up? Or was she telling the truth? She was a physicist, so maybe . . .
Could I trust her to feed TJ?
“We’ll feed TJ, Tilly, and the kittens’ mom, and then leave them here while we humans get dinner.”
It took us a long time to walk back to the van.
“Where would you like to eat?”
“McDonald’s,” Sammy said.
“Anywhere,” Curly said.
“Yeah,” Freckles said.
“Yeah what?” I said. “McDonald’s or anywhere?”
“Please Grandma, anywhere except McDonald’s.”
“Sammy, what were you going to have at McDonald’s?”
“A Big Mac.”
“Okay, how about we go somewhere that offers burgers.”
“Are you deaf? I said—”
“Stop. We’re going to a Korean restaurant.”
“What’s that?” Freckles said.
“It’s not American,” Sammy said. “I’m not going.”
“I am,” Curly said. “Who cares if it’s American or not?”
I thought the delicious aromas wafting out of the door of the place would change Sammy’s mind, but I was wrong.
He sat stiffly and refused to even glance at a menu.
The rest of us ate a wonderful meal, and I wondered what had got Sammy thinking about things being American or not. I’d never heard him talk like that, and it was starting to worry me. Who was telling him that kind of stuff? Stacey didn’t say things like that, and I doubted Chuck would. Abe never had, so maybe it was somebody at school.
“I’m hungry,” Sammy said as we got into the van.
“I’ll bet,” I said. I found him some crackers, peanut butter, and a banana.
The drive back wasn’t much faster than the walk, because I had to navigate unfamiliar backroads, but eventually, I pulled into the parking lot.
“Let’s go and get the dogs and cats and then we can go home,” I said.
No matter what Louisa said, there was no way I was going to believe that she’d truly invented a time machine.
“Did you enjoy your dinner?” Louisa asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Thank you for watching TJ, Tilly, and the kitties. It’s time for us all to go home.”
“Please help stop that man from going to the party.”
“We can’t. We have to let whatever happens happen.”
“But there was no Internet, no cell phone service, nothing. It only took ten years for that to happen.”
“Well, does your dashboard have a radio?”
“A radio? Yes, it does.”
For the first time since I’d met her, she looked uncertain.
“Did you ever try it?”
“I’ll bet if you go ten years into the future, you’ll hear commercials for amazing new phones.”
“I’m going to go now. Thank you for the idea. I can’t believe I never thought of trying the radio. Please step out of this room and close the door.”
“Can I go with you?” Freckles asked.
“No,” I said.
I took Tilly and the wagon out with us.
Lydia closed the door behind us.
“I’m tired,” Sammy said.
“Me too,” I said.
The door opened. Louisa stood there, ashed-faced.
“Did it not work?”
“Come in and I’ll tell you.”
We trooped in and all sat on the floor, including Louisa.
“It worked fine. I was only gone for about five seconds in your time. I stayed for three days.”
“So what happened?”
“I turned on the radio and checked both the FM and the AM bands, and there’s only one station. It’s on every frequency.”
She stopped speaking and looked at us intently.
“I brought back a recording of what I heard. I will play it for you. I’m pretty sure that when you hear it, you’ll want me to take you back to yesterday.”