Editors Note: This is the conclusion to a story… to read Part One, click here.
After my words with Antonio, I went upstairs with Lucas. The next morning, I woke up to find that I was in San Diego, California – the San Diego of 1859. I groaned and turned to look at Lucas. He was still sleeping, wearing his little underoos. I kissed his face and then got up to place my own tortuous clothing. After washing my face, I woke him up and took him to the bathroom. After a nice breakfast with Señora Martina and Señor Carmelo, I told them of my intentions for the day.
“¡Ay, que bueno!” said Señor Carmelo when I told him of my plans to spend my day at the church.
I smiled and nodded. I then watched as Señora Martina blushed. “¿Y el Señor Antonio – le acompañara a la misa esta noche de nuevo?”
I sighed. I then confirmed that Antonio would accompany me to mass that night, again. I left with Lucas before she could ask me any more questions.
“Why are we going to church again, mommy?”
I laughed out loud. “This is what I am going to do. I am going to answer every question you ask me in English, and then in Spanish. Okay?”
“We are going to spend the day at church today, and we are going tonight again, too. Pasaremos el día en la iglesia hoy, y iremos esta noche tambien.”
“Mom!” he whined.
I laughed and swung our interlaced hands back and forth. I was amazed at how much there was to do at the church. Father Felix told Lucas to go and play with the other kids. I accompanied him to the back of the church, where I saw a bunch of boys – Native American and Spanish – playing with sticks and climbing trees. Without another word, he took off and joined them. I laughed as I watched the boys warmly welcome him.
“He fits in well,” said Father Felix.
I sighed. “Thank God for that.”
Father Felix smiled. I helped him and two other ladies sweep and mop the church that day. I laughed as I listened to their funny stories. I shared a couple of non-truth revealing stories of my own. They laughed, too. I ate lunch with them and the boys at a large dining hall near the back of the church.
“Father, where are the parents of the children?” I asked of him.
“They are orphans, Señora Sofia.”
My good humor evaporated as I looked at the children. The poor babes.
“Some of their parents died of consumption. Others died when the pox came through. Others died during the trip here from back east,” said a lady named Doña Inez, a woman who also knew English.
“Others were simply abandoned, their parents blind with gold fever,” said Father Felix.
I sighed in sadness. I then looked at Lucas. He fit in with them so well. Then it occurred to me that he kind of was an orphan, as Ted wasn’t around. The thought of my husband made my heart sad and so heavy.
After dinner that evening, I attended mass with Señor Antonio. He politely asked me about my day. I told him about the orphans and how sad it made me.
“Yes, it is very sad,” he muttered.
“Do you have…a family?” I asked with a blush.
He smiled as he stared at the ground. “If I had a wife and a family, I would not be accompanying a one Señora Sofia to mass every night.”
I looked from him to the path before us. Thankfully, he didn’t tease me anymore.
“But no; I have not yet had an opportunity to form my own family. I’ve been too busy trying to build my business and make a name for myself out here.”
I nodded and asked him about how his day went. He told me of new orders that he had commissioned and other projects he hoped to land.
“What did your husband do?” he asked of me.
A picture of my husband wearing blue cammies jumped in my mind and my heart skipped a beat.
“He…was a Sailor.”
That made Antonio’s brow furrow. “Did he not have work back east?”
“He did, once. He…then had work to do out west,” I whispered.
Antonio nodded slowly. “Does it pain you to talk about him?” he asked.
I sobbed once. “Yes. I miss him so. It pains me to think about him; where he is, what he is thinking, and what he is doing without us.”
He said nothing for a couple of minutes. “Sofia…has it occurred to you that he might not be with us, anymore?”
I slowly nodded. “Yes. I know that he might…not be alive,” I said on a sob.
Suddenly, I couldn’t stop the tears. Thankfully, Antonio had us stop by some trees while I took the time to compose myself. I used his handkerchief to dry my face.
“Thank you,” I said to him, once I pulled myself together.
“You are welcome,” he kindly answered.
After that, we continued our trek to church. Mass went the same way it went the night before. Afterwards, the choir continued to sing, but outside and accompanied with instruments. I let Lucas run along and play with the parish’s children. I smiled as I listened to the music. I allowed myself to feel relief over the fact that I had a big, strong man standing by my side to protect me. He glanced my way for a moment, and I looked up to meet his eyes. In there, I saw something. It scared me, but still I held his gaze for a while before looking away.
The following days held more of the same routine. I was amused. Lucas was happy. He still asked for his dad every day as well as for his entertainment system, but I told him that we were still on our deployment. He’d let it go and would carry on with the habits he’d developed in our mid nineteenth century life.
One day, I was walking through town on my own. I was on my way to the hotel to change my shirt, as one of the church boys accidently stained it with some mud during an impromptu art project I’d initiated. Then the oddest thing happened. I saw Ted in the middle of the plaza. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him.
“Ted?” I called.
He turned around and walked the other way. I followed my tall, 6’4″ husband down a path. What happened then was enough to make me almost pass out. The buildings began to shimmer and change. They went from their present state and then…moved. The trees changed, too. I covered my mouth with my hand and stared. What was happening? Still, I ran after my husband.
“Ted!” I called. “Ted!!!” I yelled.
Still, his body turned a corner and went down a small street. I then watched him enter a trinket store that I had not seen before – at least not in this time. Then the store shimmered and disappeared. Quickly, I began to hyperventilate. Before I knew what I was doing, I found that I was back at Antonio’s leather shop. He’d been speaking to a customer when he saw me.
“Sofia?” he questioned.
I sat down on his bench before I could pass out.
“Señor Manuel: ¿Me permitira atenderle a mi…amiga por un rato?” said Antonio to his customer.
“Si – seguro que sí. Regresare despues.”
Once his customer left, Antonio sat next to me on the bench.
“Sofia. Are you well?” he solicitously asked of me.
I turned to him. “Ted. I saw him.”
Antonio took a breath and then nodded. “Where?”
“Here. In town.”
“What? How can that be?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. It was so odd. I saw him in the plaza; I chased after him, but he kept walking away. He then walked into a store…and then disappeared.”
Antonio sighed. “Are your stays on too tightly?”
My eyes widened. “They are not!” I protested. “Well, maybe they are, but I saw what I saw.”
I watched the corner of Antonio’s mouth tilt up.
“Okay. What store did he go into?”
“A trinket store.”
“What trinket store? I know of no trinket store in town.”
I sighed. “It disappeared.”
“What disappeared? Your husband or the store?”
“Both,” I said as I deflated.
Antonio sighed. “You are grieving. Who knows what you saw?”
“My husband – that’s who I saw.”
“Who then disappeared.”
I sighed again. “He did.”
He was quiet for a while. “Sofia…it couldn’t have been your husband.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’ve been asking about him, around town, and to people who work on the outskirts of town.”
I felt my heart begin to pound a bit harder, then.
“Why?” I whispered.
“Because you want to find him,” he said.
I kept staring at him because I knew there was more.
“Because I want to find him, or what came of him.”
“Why?” I whispered again.
“Because I want to know if there is anyone in my way,” he answered.
I couldn’t hear anything else he said, because I ran away from his shop like a little girl. How could he? I thought to myself. He knew that I was married! He knew that I was trying to get back to my husband! But then I remembered the long looks he gave me; I remembered how I looked back at him. Darn it!
Still, I put it all away from my head and carried on with my day.
The next couple of days were pretty normal; Antonio came for us for mass and we accompanied him. Lucas asked for his dad. But also, Lucas asked about the boys at church and about Antonio, too. The result of all the stressors turned into very vivid dreams. In them, I saw Ted looking for me. I saw me finding him. I saw myself staying behind and marrying Antonio; I saw myself having many of his children. I saw the old woman, too.
“What did you do to me?” I asked of the vision in my dream.
“Sent you on a trip. You like to travel, after all.”
I tried to ask her more questions, but she disappeared.
The next night, something was different. Lucas and I waited for Antonio to walk us to mass, but he did not appear. I went inside and asked Señora Martina if she knew where he lived. She told me that it was inappropriate for me to visit a soltero at his house. I told her that he was my friend and that I needed to know if he was okay. She told me where he lived, and took Lucas to mass for me. I walked down skinny streets until I came onto a small, but sturdy shack that had the plants in the front in a straight line, just like Señora Martina said there would be.
Nervously, I knocked on the door. After some scuffling, an older woman came to the door. She stared at me and said nothing. I noticed that she was darker. I wondered if she was Kumeyaay or Mexican.
“¡Vila! ¿Quien esta en mi puerta?” I heard Antonio’s voice say. He sounded drowsy.
The woman continued to stare at me, but said nothing.
“Antonio – soy yo. La Señora Sofia.”
I then heard cursing in the background. I then saw Antonio come to the door. He had no shirt on! Blushing, I looked down.
“Vila. Búscame una camiseta,” he said, requesting a shirt from Vila.
The woman left.
“What are you doing here?” he asked of me.
“You didn’t come fetch us for Mass. I worried.”
“You are not supposed to be here,” he said, sounding tired.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m sick,” he answered.
I nodded and swallowed. “Let me in. Let me help you.”
“You are a lady visiting a single man in his home. I can’t let you in,” he firmly said.
“Where I come from, friends help friends – no matter what.”
He sighed and then opened the door further, making way for me to come in. I walked into his small house, and found that I was in the living room. There was a couch, a chair and a small table. There was also a bookcase with many books in both English and Spanish in them. On the couch were bed sheets and a pillow.
Vila returned with a shirt then. She stared at me. Nervously, I looked away.
“¿Su mujer?” she asked of Antonio.
“Si,” he answered, as he stared at me.
I blushed at the insinuation.
“No debe estar aqui. No es propio.”
I knew that it wasn’t proper in their time. However, I wasn’t leaving.
“La casa es mía y hare lo que quiera,” he snapped at her.
The woman nodded and walked into another room. I then looked at him.
“Please lay down,” I asked.
He sighed and lay down.
“You shouldn’t be here.”
“You keep saying that,” I said as I pulled a small footstool closer to where he lay.
I then reached for a wet rag that sat in a bowl of water. I wrung it out and then placed it on his forehead.
“You shouldn’t be doing that.”
“I don’t care,” I answered.
He kept staring at me with his molten brown eyes.
“I’m drunk, Sofia.”
I smiled. “I thought you were sick.”
He groaned. “I am. I am also ill.”
“Malaria,” he answered.
I swallowed and nodded. “How?”
“I went to South America a few years ago to prospect for gold. I found a bit, as well as some damn malaria-carrying mosquitoes.”
“Did you take medicine?”
“I didn’t have any on me at the time,” he said as he rolled his eyes. He then shifted on the couch a bit. “It comes back from time to time, but it isn’t contagious.”
I nodded again. If he were in my century, he’d be cured.
“Can it be fatal?” I asked.
“Yes. If I don’t take care of myself, but I do.”
I then looked at the room where the woman had disappeared to.
“That is Vila. She is an old Kumeyaay woman who keeps my house clean for me. She also tends to me when I am ill.”
“Does it happen a lot?”
He shook his head. “No. Just once every few years.”
Antonio then stared at me for a while. I stared back.
“You weren’t supposed to come here – not until our wedding day,” he said to me.
For some reason, tears filled my eyes.
“Antonio, you know that I am married.”
“Your husband is not here. I know that and you know that,” he said as he closed his eyes.
I thought he’d gone to sleep, but he hadn’t. He pointed to a small door. “That’s Lucas’ room. Our room is by the kitchen.”
I started to sob, as my heart was hurting. Antonio opened his eyes.
“We’ll have to expand for the rest of the children, of course, but that will be okay.”
I reached for his hand, but he pulled it away. “No. You cannot touch me – not until we marry.”
I wiped my tears from my face and nodded.
“Now, I have to ask you to leave. I care too much about your reputation for it to become sullied.”
New tears fell. He was such a good man – the best man that I’d ever met. I stood up to leave.
“Please. Get better?” I requested.
He nodded. “I will. Go home. I will see you tomorrow for Mass.”
I walked slowly as I made my way back to the hotel, as I wanted to have the time to cry in silence. My hurt was so full and so hurt, all at the same time. I was a married woman. I married Ted Kripke in a Chicago courthouse in March of 2008. We had a son in 2010. I knew his parents and he knew mine. We knew my dreams and I knew his. I made a promise to him.
But then I thought of Señor Antonio Juarez Miller. He was a man. He was a hard worker, a devout Catholic and a great man, and he loved me.
Where did that leave me? If I had choice, who would I choose? If I stayed here, there would be no choice, I knew, but what if I could go back? Would I?
But it wasn’t just me – it was me and Lucas. I was his mother. I had to do what was best for him. With a heavy heart and a heavy mind, I went upstairs for the rest of the night. The next morning, I went to church with Lucas, as we always did.
“Do you like it here, Lucas?” I asked of my son.
“Yes. I like the boys at the church. I like the food and that you are with me all day.”
I swallowed and nodded. “Do you miss daddy?”
“Yeah,” he sighed. “I miss my room and my games and my dad.”
“Of course you do,” I said.
A few moments later, he spoke.
“Do you like it here, mommy?”
Tears filled my eyes. “I do.”
“Good. This is a fun deployment.”
I thanked God for my resilient son. That afternoon, I worked in the garden, which was near the church. In my time, a major road sat just by it. But here and now, it was perfect. Suddenly, I heard a car horn. I stood up from my kneeling position and stared at what was before me – a street. My eyes widened as I watched cars, trucks and cyclists drive right before me. What was going on?
Just as soon as the apparitions came, they left. I rubbed my forehead and sighed. What did they mean? Did they mean that life went on over there without me? Did they mean that I would go home? I did not know.
That night, I tried hard to hide my tears, but failed.
“I told you I would be fine,” Antonio whispered to me.
He was right; he looked large, healthy and whole. I nodded and said nothing.
“Can we go now?” he asked.
I nodded again. Off to mass we went. When mass was over and Lucas ran into the hotel lobby for sweets (Señora Martina loved to spoil him), I stood outside with Antonio.
“I said things last night – things I would not have said had I been sober.”
“En Vino Veritas,” I said to him.
He laughed out loud, a wonderful and large sound. “I’d give you credit for learning Latin, but I know better.”
“What?” I asked, voice full of righteous indignation.
“You are the worse prayer mumbler I’ve seen.”
“Well, maybe you are the wrong one, as you should be listening to the prayers and homilies and not paying attention to me.”
His face went serious then. “I cannot help myself.”
My face went serious, too. He was going to ask me something serious; I could tell by the look in his eye. I stopped him with a hand.
“You do not know where I come from, Antonio.”
“I don’t care,” he answered.
“It is important and it matters. You don’t know how much.”
“Then tell me what I need to know. I can handle it.”
I started crying. “I know.”
“Tomorrow. Tell me tomorrow.”
“I’m in love with you, Sofia,” he whispered. “I know that you love me back.”
I cried harder.
“Deny it. Tell me that you don’t.”
“It isn’t as easy as that,” I said around sobs.
“Tomorrow we will make it easy.”
With that, he left. Once I went to my room, I hid my tears from Lucas. We changed and went to bed. That night, I had dreams. I dreamed that I was driving in San Diego. I dreamed that I was cooking at home. I dreamed that Ted was talking to me, but that I wasn’t answering him. I then dreamed that Lucas ran into Ted’s arms and would not let him go.
After lunch that day, and with Lucas at school with the boys, I went to Antonio’s shop. He sighed in relief as soon as he saw me, but said nothing. After locking the front door, he sat next to me.
“You have to listen to me, Antonio. Every word.”
“My husband is not dead. He is simply not here.”
He shook his head and was about to say something, but I stopped him with my hand.
“I…have to go back to him. I made a promise,” I said as I showed him my ring hand.
Antonio looked away from me and towards a window.
“But that isn’t even the biggest barrier to my…being with you.”
He turned to me. “Give me a barrier. I’ll break it down.”
I nodded and then pulled my twenty-first century wallet from the pocket in my skirt. His eyes widened as I opened it. I looked at it and wondered what he thought. It was leather alright, but pink and orange leather. It featured a zipper and snaps. It had plastic in it. I pulled my driver’s license out and handed it to him.
His eyes widened as he gazed at it. He rubbed it with his fingers and flipped it back and forth. He then looked at my picture.
“A Daguerreotype? In color?” he whispered.
He touched my face on the card, very slowly. It touched me. He then brought it closer to his face.
“Wait. This…says San Diego. You live here?” he questioned, with much incredulity in his voice.
I then pointed at a date. “What does that say?”
“There are three numbers. Eleven, twenty, and two thousand thirteen. What of it?”
“That is a year, Antonio. Two thousand thirteen.”
He shook his head. “No. That is impossible.”
“How is this impossible? You are holding a material – plastic – in your hands. You are looking at a color picture of me. You are looking at my name.”
“Yes! Antonio, my name is Sofia Kripke and I was born in the year nineteen eighty seven. I won’t be born for another one hundred and twenty eight years.”
“No!” he yelled as he stood up.
With shaking hands, I removed cash from my wallet – a twenty, a ten and a one. “Look at this. These bills are money from my time.”
He accepted the money. I watched as his eyes widened. I then showed him my military ID and coins, too. He was shaking. A few moments later, he dropped them to the ground.
“I don’t need to know where you came from. I don’t need to know when you came from. You are for me and I love you.”
I started crying, hard.
“It is not up to me, Antonio.”
“Yes it is! You are the owner of your destiny!” he yelled.
I stood up, getting closer to him. “It is not. I have a son. He needs his father.”
“I will be his father. I will give you many more children.”
“You don’t understand; if I stay here, it will be because I am selfish – because I would be following my heart. But if I did that, I would be committing a crime to the man I married. Disappeared and unknown would be his wife and his son. He would be destroyed forever.”
Antonio’s face fell. His lower lip shook.
“My heart will be broken forever,” he whispered.
“I need you to know that I think that my time here, in your time is running out. I will have to make a choice. Know that the choice I am making is the correct one, but not for me.”
“I love you,” he whispered.
I dared and touched his face. He moaned and covered my hand with his.
“If you ever want to see the face of the man that I love, the man that I will dream of forever, all you need to do is look in a mirror.”
He started to gently cry then. I handed him my entire wallet. I even removed my pink sapphire ring and handed it to him.
“Keep this. Make more for yourself with what you can learn from this,” I said as I pressed those things into his hands.
“What I want cannot be bought or prospected.”
I sobbed again.
“Go,” he said as he released my hands. “Know that you are the most wonderful woman that I have ever met. Never will anyone measure up to you.”
I touched his face again and then ran away from his shop, and his presence. Brokenhearted, I went to the log at the plaza to sit awhile. I cried so hard that I didn’t see the woman that sat next to me.
“Do you like to travel?” she asked.
I answered without looking at her. “No. Not anymore. I have to go home. I have to take my son home, but my heart will be here, forever.”
“You can choose, you know.”
“I wish I could.”
Almost as if by magic, Lucas showed up next to me. “Hi Momma! Is it naptime yet?”
I then pulled him into my arms and turned to the old woman. “I’m ready to go home. Will you send me home?”
She nodded. “Yes. Your travels are over.”
“It’s time to look in the mirror again, baby,” I said to Lucas as the old woman fished the oval shaped piece of magic out of her bag.
A few minutes later found us in Old Town, but back in my time. I cried as I watched Lucas turn around.
“Why does everything look different?” he said to me.
“Because it is different. We are back home,” I hollowly said.
He turned to face me. “Is our deployment over?”
I slowly nodded. “Yes.”
His lower lip began to quiver. I pulled him into my arms and cried. After a few moments, I pulled back and looked into his eyes.
“What do you say we go and find your daddy?”
“Yes!” he exclaimed.
I knew how to find him. I simply followed the path that I saw him walk down a few days past, back when I was in Old Town. We walked into the trinket shop, where I spotted my husband – or his back.
“My wife will kill me if she knew that I was buying her another ring,” he said to the woman behind the register.
That made me cry again.
“Ted?” I called.
Quickly he turned around to me. I watched as his smile widened, and then faltered.
“Yes,” I said as I nodded.
Just then, Lucas tore away from my arms and then ran into his father’s arms.
“Daddy,” he said as he cried. “I missed you.”
Ted’s eyes never left me as he bent down to pick up his son. He held him tight as he stared at me.
“Sofia. Why are you wearing that dress? And that hat?” he asked in a mystified voice.
I wished that our reunion would have gone smoother, but it didn’t. Driving home, I cried for the time that came before. I cried over all of the highways that bisected the beautiful lands that were San Diego. I cried over all the cars I saw zoom past us. I cried as I wondered where my love was buried.
I kept crying as I sat on my bed, wearing nothing but a robe.
“I don’t get it. Where is your purse? Where are your rings? Where in God’s name did you find those clothes,” raged Ted.
But how could I tell him that I’d travelled in time? I couldn’t. I also couldn’t explain why Lucas kept asking for his friends. I couldn’t explain how he was now completely fluent in Spanish. I couldn’t explain why I had to go to mass every day and I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to have sex with him.
Lucas was okay, thank God. But I was not. In turn, my marriage was not, either. Three months later, we went to see a marriage counselor. I listened as Ted spoke to the counselor about how much I’d changed.
“Ted, can I speak to your wife alone for a while?” said Melinda, the friendly middle-aged counselor.
“Sure. Maybe she’ll talk to you.”
Ted left. I watched as he went outside and to the parking lot.
“That’s a broken up man out there.”
“That makes two of us,” I said in a thick voice.
“Sofia,” she said to me.
I turned to face her.
“Please talk to me. I promise that what you say here will not leave this room.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
I then told her everything. I told her about the woman with the mirror, the time travel, about my work in Old Town, and about Antonio. I cried hard as I talked about him.
“I fell in love with a man. I still love him. God help me, I do.”
“Do you still love your husband?”
I sighed and shrugged. “Yes. I guess so.”
“But you would rather be with Antonio.”
I nodded. “Yes.”
Melinda sighed and then sat back. “I am going to cast aside your story of time travel. What I am going to keep are the important parts. You fell in love with another man. You gave him up so that your son could have his father back. You became a devout Catholic – again.”
I nodded at her assertions.
“You are a different woman, now.”
“That’s a hard one.”
I nodded, saying no more. Ted joined us a while later.
“Ted, are you opposed to your wife being Catholic?”
I watched as he uncomfortably shifted on his chair.
“No. Not on Sundays.”
“But not every day?” asked Melinda.
Ted looked out the window.
“I don’t like Catholics,” he whispered.
“What?” I said. I’d never heard him say that before.
He turned to me. “You don’t know what they do.”
“I know perfectly well what they do!” I yelled. “I am catholic.”
“I used to be, too. So was Willy,” he yelled at me.
“Who is Willy?”
“He was my best friend,” he said as his eyes filled with tears.
He then told a story I’d never heard before – a horror story full of childhood abuse, stolen dreams, and a dead young man. I cried hard.
“You never told me.”
“Of course I never told you. I never think about it. I try not to,” he added as he dried his tears.
I stared at Ted in wonder. What other heartbreaking stories was he harboring?
“What are you doing to me, Sofia? What are you doing to our marriage? I love you,” he added.
“I’m sorry,” I said as I sobbed.
The meetings with the counselor didn’t repair our marriage, but it did help open the lines of communication. However, I still wasn’t “back” yet. One day, I begged off of breakfast and told Ted that I was going for a short drive. He was off that day, and Lucas was at a playdate at a friend’s house.
“Do you want me to go with you?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No. Not this time.”
After that, I drove. I went to Old Town, the place I’d been avoiding for six months. I cried as I walked the grounds. I sobbed as I stood at the place where Antonio’s leather shop once stood. I walked to the open field that once held his home. After that, I continued to walk. I walked down San Diego Avenue, which was where the graves were. I then looked at the tombstone I’d dropped a pomegranate and some flowers on a few months back. With a furrowed brow, I approached it and dusted the dirt off of it. The name on it was Antonio Juarez Miller. Malaria. Born 1820 and deceased in 1860 – one year after I’d left him.
“No!” I yelled. “No!” I screamed.
I hugged the tombstone as I cried the hardest sobs I’d ever cried before.
“No. I’m sorry. I am so sorry,” I said as I caressed the stone. “I loved you. I love you so much. I…didn’t know,” I said around sobs. “I didn’t know that I would come back changed. I didn’t know.”
But I couldn’t take back my choice. Moments later, I felt hands on my shoulders. I turned back and saw Ted. His face was wet and his eyes were red. Had he been following me all morning?
“Sofia?” he asked.
I leaned back and dried my face as much as I could. I rubbed the tombstone again and then stood up.
“Do you want to talk?” I said to Ted.
“Yes,” he answered.
We sat on a bench near the graveyard and I told him – everything. He didn’t believe me, or didn’t want to. I walked him around all of Old Town and described how everything was back then. I even substantiated my claims by showing the names of Father Felix, Señora Martina and Señor Carmelo in various town records. I showed him the garden I’d tended and everything else.
“Time travel, Sofia?” he asked again, but his voice was different.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “How else would you explain my dress when I returned? My tan? The fact that Lucas now speaks fluent Spanish?”
I then showed him my bare hands. “I used my rings as currency – to pay for clothing and the hotel – Hotel Colorado,” I said as I pointed in the distance to where I thought it was.
“But you came back,” he said.
I nodded. “I did.”
He woke me up in bed that night.
“Tell me again – everything.”
I sat up and dutifully did just that. Early in the morning, he had another question.
“Why did you fall in love with him?” he whispered.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized for the twentieth time. I never wanted to hurt Ted. I came back to him, after all.
“That’s not answer he said.”
I sighed. “Do you really want to know?”
“Why do you think I’m asking?” he asked.
I nodded. I told him everything I knew about Antonio. Once I was done, he got up.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going out on a run,” he said as he pulled his running shoes from the closet.
I got up and carried on with the business of the morning. That night, Ted cooked dinner. Hamburgers – his specialty.
“So, I planned something,” he said, with a giddy smile on his face.
I couldn’t help it; I beamed. “What?”
“I took leave from work,” he said as he put avocado sauce on our burgers.
“With one day’s notice?” I questioned.
He nodded. “Yes. We are going on a road trip.”
I laughed out loud. “Where to?”
“Redwood National Park. We’ll be there for two days. After that, we’ll hit up Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park, too.”
“Road Trip!” cheered our son.
I laughed. “That’s a lot of parks,” I said to him as I reached for a beer.
He nodded. “This is what I’ve got on him,” he whispered. “I know you. I know what you want to do.”
That made me smile. I even got up and kissed his cheek.
“Yay me,” he cheered.
I laughed. The road trip was happy and very welcome. I saw the beautiful tall trees that had intrigued me from my childhood. It was great to see Lucas run circles around the trees and laugh. Even Ted laughed a lot.
On the trip, we realized that we could not pick up from where we left off, but we learned that we could start again. So we did. We talked about what excited us, about what our dreams are and what we should do. That was college for me, and college for him, too. We took more trips. We became intimate again. We became a couple again, too.
Life went on. Lucas grew up; he majored in law and Hispanic studies. Secretly, we would talk about what came before. We never meant to leave Ted out of the conversations; we simply understood that he missed out on something major that he would never be a part of.
I majored in history. Ted majored in science (secretly, I think that he wanted to find out how I time traveled).
I was walking through Old Town one day, twenty years after my “trip.” I’d finally mustered the strength to walk through the town without collapsing in sadness and grief. It was still within me, but was compartmentalized in an area of my heart where I could hold it back just enough, but could reach it when I needed to.
I visited his grave. I did that frequently. I deposited roses on it and whispered three words to it before walking away. I then went to the square to sit down for a while.
“You don’t come here much,” said a female’s voice.
Shocked, I turned around to see the old woman. I looked at her hands, scared of what I might find there.
“Relax. Your travels are done. I told you that.”
I shook my head. “You don’t know what you did to me,” I said as I looked at the flagpole, which stood before us.
She laughed out loud. “Ha. You don’t know what you did.”
I turned to face her.
“You placed flowers and fruit on the grave of your beloved on the Day of the Dead. What would you think would happen?”
I couldn’t say anything, so in shock was I.
“Life is a circle, Sofia. Time is a circle. You were able to visit your heart because you wanted to.”
“But…I don’t get it.”
She nodded. “He knew you would come, and you did.”
Hearing him spoken of brought old tears to my eyes.
“All I did was help you get to where you were meant to go,” she added.
“I…this changed me. So much,” I said as I dried my eyes.
“Yes, I know. I know,” she insisted. “Still, how wonderful is it that you knew love twice in your life?”
I sobbed and then nodded. “I know.”
“But you didn’t end up with what you wanted.”
“But don’t you dare complain to me about it. You had a choice.”
“I know,” I answered.
“You know how many people never meet the loves of their lives?” she asked.
I shook my head.
“Tons. Not you. You met two men who love you greatly.”
I sighed. “That’s a lot.”
“That is everything,” she said.
She then got up to leave. “Would you do it again?” she asked of me.
“In a minute,” I answered.
She moved to walk away. I had one more thing to say to her, though. After she heard my words, she smiled and left. I went to Antonio’s grave and said the same. That night, as we watched TV, I said the same to Ted.
“For what?” he asked, as he hit pause on the TV.
“Thank you for loving me,” I simply said.
He nodded a few times and then pulled me tightly into his arms.
“Thank you for loving me back,” he said.
And I did.