It was too easy.
The intense moment of exhilaration passed, leading to saner thoughts. Reason, not emotion.
Perhaps I had only delayed their meeting, not prevented it altogether. Return to 2019 and see what family history said? Certainly, but if you’re already at the store you don’t go home to see if there’s something else on your shopping list.
This version of wandering the store to see if I’d forgotten eggs or cheese meant following one of my erstwhile grandparents.
He had seen me. She had not.
Rushing through the crowd as rudely as I’d pretended to be to my grandfather, I saw her. May as well follow her to be sure.
Up East Lane toward Main she moved in and out of sight, the crowds from the train station being thicker here. The crowds dispersed at Main Street, walking east or west or climbing into carriages or sparkling automobiles. Once we crossed Main Street she and I were virtually alone. She turned left on Oak Lane, as I’d assumed she would.
Before we got to the grand Victorian at the corner of Oak and Third, she stopped, whirled, and came back my direction. Since she had no reason to know who I was, I simply continued walking, and made as if to pass her, tipping my grubby cap as she approached.
“Why are you following me?” Her voice was loud in the empty street.
I tried to step past, tried to remain calm. This was not what I’d expected.
“Why should I follow you, madame? I’m simply enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, and we happened to be going the same direction. I apologize if I startled you.”
I took another step. She blocked my way.
“You were at the station. I saw you accost that man. Now you’re following me. I ask again, why?”
Time for action, not words. I tried to step around her but she grabbed my arm. I put my hand on her wrist, trying to gently pull it from my own, but her grip was stronger than I’d expected.
“Take your hands off her, you thug.”
Surprised, I let go and turned to face the speaker, whose voice I recognized, of course. My grandmother covered her mouth with her free hand. A tiny squeal escaped past her fingers.
My grandfather, for the second time that day, punched me square in the face. This time it was hard enough to knock me down, bloodying my face. By the time I got up and cleared my vision, they were gone.
So that’s how you want to play it, eh, Time? I accept the challenge.
I set out to prevent my grandparents’ marriage, even if it killed me.