The Pocket Watch(6)

By: Ceci Giltenan

“I wouldn’t tell her who I was. She’d be about my age. I’d just make friends with her and spend a little more time with her.”

“And ye wouldn’t tell her to go see the doctor earlier than she did? Perhaps catch the cancer earlier?”

“Would that be so wrong?”

“Maggie, think about it. If ye told yer twenty-something mother she needed to make sure she sees a doctor thirty years later, what would happen? At best, she would forget it and at worst she would spend the next thirty years worrying about dying instead of living. Yer mother is at peace now. Her time was up and she is where she needs to be. Besides, ye wouldn’t be experiencing a different life. Ye would be trying desperately to regain the life ye had. Nay, ye will likely go back at least a hundred years, perhaps a good deal more.”

“A hundred years?” Maggie was incredulous.

“At least. So ye will have no need to say the word “cellphone” but if ye are in trouble or ye just want to come back, ye just say cellphone and ye’ll be back in an instant.”

“I just say ‘cellphone’ and come back instantly no matter where I am.”

“Aye, lass, ye cellphone home so’s to speak.” She laughed merrily at her own joke.

Maggie couldn’t help but smile. “And if I don’t cellphone home, if I stay the full sixty days, I just pop back into my own body when the time runs out?”

“Nay, lass. Ye have to decide to come back and say the word when ye’re ready.”

“What if I want to stay longer?” Even as she said it, Maggie could scarcely believe she was having this conversation. The woman was delusional.

“Ye can stay longer if ye wish, but after sixty days ye won’t be able to return. Ye will stay in the other life forever.”

“So I have the choice to return, but whoever assumes my body here is at my mercy. I’m not sure that’s terribly fair. What if she likes it better here?”

“She won’t have time to know. Ye see while sixty days pass for ye in the past, only sixty seconds will pass here.”

“Oh.” Maggie thought for a moment. “But, how will this work? My soul and consciousness will be in someone else’s body. I won’t know anyone. Her friends and family will think she’s lost her mind. Do I pretend to have amnesia or something?”

“Aye, that’s usually the best explanation, but it isn’t quite that cut and dried. Ye will have yer soul and consciousness as ye say, but ye will still be in her body, brain and all. Ye will have some bits of her memory from the start, language for example. If she speaks another language, ye will understand it and be able to speak it. It will feel no different to ye than English. Other memories may come to ye over time.”

Maggie knew she shouldn’t feed into the woman’s delusions but she couldn’t stop herself from asking, “How is that possible?”

The old woman smiled. “I have just told ye, ye can travel back in time. Ye are fully convinced that I am delusional, but ye have trouble believing this one detail?”

How could the woman possibly have known what Maggie was thinking? “I-I, well I don’t think…what I mean is…”

The old woman’s tinkling laughter bubbled up again. “Tis all right, lass. I know it’s all hard to believe and I’d worry if ye weren’t skeptical. But I assure ye, I am not delusional. And if ye truly want to see what another life would be like, ye’ll try it. The worst outcome is that ye wake up in the morning and nothing happened. I’ll meet ye here tomorrow at noon and ye can return my timepiece to me. Ye may have a fascinating tale to tell, but if nothing happened, feel free to bring the mental health care professional of yer choice. Truly, ye have nothing to lose and perhaps the opportunity to do a bit of good.”

Maggie looked at the odd timepiece in her hand. She really didn’t have anything to lose and if the old woman returned the next day, maybe Maggie could find some help for her. “I suppose you’re right, but let me make sure I understand. I put the chain around my neck and go to sleep as usual. When I wake up, I will have switched souls with someone from the past just in time to stop that person from dying.”