The Pocket Watch(7)

By: Ceci Giltenan


“I will be able to speak and understand whatever language the other person speaks. I can stay for up to sixty days and come back to my own body at any time simply by saying the word ‘cellphone’ but I must say it before the sixty days are up or I will stay there for the rest of my life.”

The woman smiled and nodded. “Ye’ve summed it up nicely.”

Maggie puzzled over the idea for a moment before asking, “If sixty days wherever I am is only one minute here, a whole year there is only about six minutes here.”

“Aye, that’s right.”

“So that means if I stayed there and lived another seventy years only seven hours will have passed here during which time she will have been simply sleeping soundly in my bed. What happens then?”

“When her own body dies, she will pass on just as she was intended to and having come to the natural end of yer life, so will ye.”

“But if I have saved her life, she will pop back into her body sixty days later without knowing what happened?”

“Nay, child, she won’t. Her time is up, very likely through her own folly. Ye will have extended her life only so long as ye are in her body. When ye return to yer own body, her body will die and her soul will pass on.”

Maggie examined the timepiece again as if it held some answer for her. “And you promise to let me get you some help tomorrow.”

“Only if it doesn’t work.”

“Okay…uh…” Maggie paused, she had just unburdened her heart to this stranger, who in return had offered her a trip to the past but Maggie had never even asked her name.

“It’s all right, Maggie. My name is Gertrude.”

Once again Maggie was astounded that the woman, Gertrude, seemed to hear her thoughts. “Okay, Gertrude. I will try it. I should be going now but we’ll meet back here tomorrow.”

Gertrude smiled. “Until tomorrow then.”

Maggie gave her a little hug and rose to leave. “Until tomorrow.”

As Maggie was walking away, Gertrude called, “Sleep well, Maggie.”

“Thank you, Gertrude. Same to you.” Maggie reached the top of the stairs before she realized she had never given Gertrude her name. She turned back around, “How did you know my…”

Gertrude was gone.

Chapter 2

Perhaps Maggie was the delusional one, because she spent the whole evening thinking about traveling back in time and swapping souls with someone. At least it was better than crying over Elliott. Maybe that was all the old woman was doing, giving her a distraction on this most difficult day.

Still, she decided to call Paige for a chat. Although she hadn’t intended to, she found herself telling her little sister the whole story. Only, she didn’t mention the way Gertrude had vanished.

Paige was fascinated by it all. “Well if it is a delusion, she has certainly developed it well. It is more likely she’s just having one over on you, but it is fun to think about. I wonder how many times she has given that watch away.”

“I don’t know. She seemed very serious. She promised to let me help her find psychiatric help when I meet her tomorrow.”

“Are you going to do it?”

“Get her help? Of course.”

“No, are you going to try it? Wearing the watch to bed, I mean.”

“Well I have to if I am going to shed light on her delusion.”

“What if it works?”

“Oh, Paige, come on. It’s not going to work.”

“Magdalena Mitchell, you have absolutely no sense of imagination.”

Maggie laughed. “All right. If it works, I will have a fascinating story to tell you in the morning.”

“Unless you fall in love and decide to stay.”

“Oh please.”

“I know you think that the old woman is delusional but I want you to listen to me—I mean really listen not just smile and nod. If by some crazy chance it works—”

“It won’t work, Paige. It’s impossible.”

“But if it does, and if you do fall in love…stay.”

“Thanks, but I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

“No, Maggie, please listen. I know you. I know you will worry more about me and dad but don’t. We can manage without you and I want you to think of your own happiness for once.”

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