Flash: I Was Never There

Image courtesy of elxaval at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two man stood at the back of the middle school auditorium, watching a badly performed production of Shakespeare’s Midsummers Night Dream, their clothing tight across the top and loose around the legs in a fashion-style unlike the seated patrons. The larger, younger one whispered sideways. “What are we-“

“Shh,” cut him off, even though no one else could hear them. His companion hung on every word spoken by the barely teenage actresses presently on stage.


Striding away from the temporal-porter, Harry tossed aside the harness which had dragged him back. “I can’t believe you did that. All of time and space, and you use your fifth trip on a school play.”

“I get one free ride, and you got your required training trip.” Brandon slipped out of his harness and started packing it away for the crew to recalibrate for the next traveler.

“I thought my training trip would be crazy. Like to Woodstock or the Battle of Hastings. Maybe even a real clock turner with dinosaurs.” Harry spun in anger to face the other man. “All the others in my class have been telling us about the absolutely amazing trips they have been on.” He blew air out of his mouth in disgust. “Me, my presentation is going to be a sixth-grade play from fifty years ago. Even with the audio-vid, nothing is going to have impact. We still have so much surviving video from that time, everything has been documented. I’ll be lucky to get a passing grade.”

“Luck of the draw.” The now-retired traveler closed the container and leaned against it, his shoulders slumped and head bowed.

The younger man tramped back to spit words into the back of his trainer. “Luck of the draw? At least tell me why I just spent one of my five observing that travesty to playwrights everywhere.”

“I was drunk,” came the whispered reply, bouncing off the plasti-steel wall of the chamber behind the storage container.


Brandon turned around to stare up at Harry with red-rimmed eyes. “I had been drunk that night and didn’t make the play.”

“So? I would have considered both of those things pluses.”

“That was my daughter playing Helena.”

Brandon left the room with Harry following close behind; they squeezed together in the decontamination chamber, Harry activating the sterilization sequence.

“All of time and space, Mr. Pollard, couldn’t you have chosen something more interesting? Even when stuck in your little nostalgia kick there had to have been something better. Maybe a graduation. They usually had important speakers during that era, and I could have presented a forgotten speech.”

Brandon stared off into the mist and purple lights for several moments before responding. “It is the last thing she did before committing suicide because I was never there.”

Words 465; first published 12/16/2018