This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 745 words.
The atmosphere in Delia’s house was subdued the next morning. It was a very cold day, and she had her central heating on a high setting. But Roger was not used to it, and felt uncomfortably hot. By the time he sat down at the table for breakfast, he was losing his appetite. Delia assumed that meant he was undecided, and she launched into what sounded like a very well-rehearsed speech.
“You know I was hoping that we might become more than just two people seeing each other. I hadn’t ruled out the idea that in time we would get married. Now all this crazy stuff to do with Emily has come along, and I have to say it has turned my world upside down. I’m not saying I don’t believe what she has told us, or what we have seen with our own eyes, but I just wish she had never come to our school, and we had never heard of her”.
She spread some butter far too thickly on a slice of toast, and Roger resisted the urge to tell her that without Emily, nothing would ever have happened between them. He had come to really like Delia in a short space of time, but compared to what was on offer from Emily, Delia’s bedroom specialities were not going to keep him there. The next thing she said surprised him.
“But I see no reason to stop you doing something so potentially amazing, on the understanding that you come back to me one day soon. After all, you can travel to all manner of places and times, and still return to me as you are now. I mean, that’s what Emily said, isn’t it?” He didn’t want to burst her balloon by telling her it wasn’t as simple as that, so just nodded as he chewed some bacon. That seemed to seal the deal.
“Well then, I agree. Why not? I will be Emily’s guardian, as long as she doesn’t treat me like a servant. The way she speaks to Yamada is not very nice at all. I will have to make it clear to her that she will not be able to treat me the same way. And if she wants to have a car in Edinburgh, she will have to employ a chauffeur or use taxis. I’m not going to contemplate learning to drive at my time of life”. She reached over to pour more tea from the pot for both of them.
“As you have to go so soon, I would like us to spend at least one full day here together today. We have all that food left over from Christmas, lots to drink, and we could spend the whole afternoon in bed to make up for what we are going to miss when your are off time-jumping, or whatever they call it. Okay?” He had been hoping to go and see Emily again, to find out more about the life he could expect in one of her underground cities. But Delia needed his reassurance, so he smiled and agreed that she was right.
She was sleeping later, after the protracted sex. But Roger was lying awake, imagining the places and times he would choose to visit, aware that Delia would age while he was gone, and not relative to him. To his way of thinking, living in a small unit with no distractions to interfere with his studies sounded perfect. A society of pure research and learning, all the basic needs supplied with not having to go shopping, prepare meals, or worry about what to wear. Life without the routine and deadlines of schoolteaching seemed ideal. Emily had been right about Delia though. She was better suited to being a guardian. She had a caring nature, and enjoyed looking after people. Well she certainly looked after him, in the short time they had been together. Far better than Diana ever had.
Delia must have been tired, because she was still asleep when he got up to go downstairs and make himself a snack. It was after six when she appeared, her hair in disarray, and her mood sour. “You should have woken me. I was going to prepare a nice evening meal for us, and look my best. Now it’s too late. I’m going back up to have a bath”.
Giving up on his sandwich, Roger sighed. He didn’t want their last few days together to end badly.