Just a Little Adjustment
by Anthony Lukas
I opened the front door and a young man was standing there. He seemed vaguely familiar.
“Bob Letter?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. A look of deep concern crossed his face as he continued to stare at me. I was standing in my doorway, leaning on my cane. “And who are you?”
“I am Bob Letter. I am you.”
I stared at the young man and yes, it was me. I looked at his unruly hair and beard, disheveled clothes. Good grief, had I really dressed like that?
“You look so old,” he said.
“I am old. Sixty-nine tomorrow.”
“And to you. Ah, how did—?”
“I get here? There was a time-travel experiment, a slipstream coefficient resulting in an alternative-reality scenario that resulted in—”
“Never mind,” I said, waving the jargon away with my hand. “So, what are you doing here?”
“I came to see what I would be like in my future.” He took in my mansion and the grounds. “Looks like I did okay? Great house.”
“I had it built after I made my tenth million.”
He looked back at me with a slightly troubled look. I was leaning on my cane.
“What?” I asked.
“I was hoping...” His voice trailed off. “I was hoping that I would be... the same as I am now.”
“You mean that somehow you wouldn’t age?”
My God, had I really been such an idiot? “Of course you’ll grow old. What’s important is the life you live while doing it. Try to limit the number of regrets.”
“You have some regrets?”
“Of course, some small, some big.” I smiled a weary smile, my mind wandering for a moment. Well, one big one.
“Did I ever get married?” he asked, looking at my ringless finger.
“Twice and a half.” To his puzzled look, “I’m in the middle of another divorce.”
“You’ll meet them some years down your road. None lasted all that long. Turns out they were more interested in all this” — I waved my arm at my mansion and all it represented — “than in me.” A thought occurred to me. “How old are you?”
I thought back. Oh, yes...
“There’s a concert on campus tomorrow. You should go.”
“I was thinking of skipping it.”
“I know, but go. You’ll have fun. And there will be a young woman with strawberry blonde hair. You’ll want to talk to her, but you’ll feel too shy. Do it anyway.”
“Why? Oh, do I marry her?”
I laughed. “Well... we’ll see.”
“Then why...” He suddenly looked at his watch. “I have to go.” He reached out, shook my hand then turned and hurried down my front path and onto the street. Then he just seemed to disappear. I did not move from where I stood, waiting.
A voice called from inside the house. “Bob? Who were you talking to?”
“Someone needing directions,” I said. I turned and smiled at the woman who stood in the hallway of our small bungalow. She was still beautiful after all our years together. She still had traces of strawberry blonde in her hair.
Copyright © 2015 by Anthony Lukas