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Reason Enough

science fiction by Oonah V. Joslin

Dr. Frances Horus took a step back and admired her shiny time machine.

It had taken decades to perfect, but the shade was just right, pink with a hint of lilac. She stepped into the temporal core and settled into the seat.

“Horus 0ne, set time – July 11th 2007, eleven am CET. place – Paris. Location – Jardin des Tuilleries, as close as possible to the Ferris wheel.”

“Desired parameters set, Doctor,” said the machine voice, low and masculine.


All around, the air became translucent with shifting colors like petrol on a puddle and the room faded. It felt like she was floating upwards and slowly spinning round. She experienced a faint tingling sensation and a strange detachment from reality, but at the same time, absolute calm.

Frances remembered that day well.

It was her first trip to Paris and they’d gone there for Bastille Day. Sam had gone on the Ferris wheel. Frances hated those rides and couldn’t be persuaded. He was larking about, singing along to some French song that was playing – ‘si tu m’aimais’ or something – his French was excellent.

“Si tu m’aimais, Frances,” he called out.

She knew he wanted to get married. He’d kept blowing her kisses until she’d walked away to find shade among the trees. After that they’d strolled and eaten croque-monsieur by one of the little kiosks and fed Parisian pigeons.

All very romantic.

Somewhere between there and Concorde, it had happened. She wasn’t sure of the exact moment, but perhaps that wouldn’t matter if she could get back to the Ferris wheel, back to a time when they were together.

“Are we there yet?” she asked.

For someone who didn’t like Ferris wheels this was a ride! Somehow or other she’d expected time travel to be instantaneous.

“You were very particular in your specifications, Doctor,” said the voice. “I am sorry, but you did not give exact co-ordinates for the Ferris wheel. A few more seconds, please.”

She was glad she’d made a polite machine and it was comforting to have voice interface, like having a friend along.

Gradually she began to feel the hot sunshine and to hear that song, closer and closer.  Then they were there and Paris emerged fully from the whirl.  It brought it all back.  Frances got down and looked all around.

It was just as she remembered.  And her hands – her hands looked young again.  This invention had many applications.  You could un-people the planet for a price.  Everybody would want to live in the past.

Her reveries were interrupted by the voice.

“How long a stay do you require, Doctor?”

“A moment,” she said.

“A single moment?”

“No. I mean I need a moment to think.”

She was beneath the trees. She could see Sam perched at the top of the wheel, quietly enjoying the view now. Alone. And she was alone too – but not lonely.

Paris wasn’t romantic. You had to bring the romance with you – like baggage.

“Of course, Doctor.”

Frances put a finger tip to her left ear and then to her right ear, remembering.

She felt sorry for him. That’s why she said yes. Then he offered her those clumsy gold hoop earrings. Two rings because I love you so much. He had insisted that she put them on, right there, and so she had removed her heirloom ruby studs, and –

“Damn! It was before the Ferris wheel,” she said. “We’ll have to go a bit further back. Take me back to the twenty-first century. I’ll have to readjust your chronometer.”

“But I thought you might want to go forward a little, Doctor, to be with your late husband again. Is that not why we are here?”

“No,” said Frances, scornfully. “I only came to get my ruby earrings back.” Perhaps if she changed the machine’s gender it would understand.

Copyright July 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

Oonah V. Joslin lives in Great Britain. She is a three-time winner of the Micro Horror Contest and an honoree in the 2009 Binnacle Competition for First Love. Her stories are included in several anthologies including: Toe Tags and The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009. She blogs about writing at Oonahverse and is Managing Editor of the e-zine, Every Day Poets.

[Return to the Issue 5: July 2010 stories]

2 Responses

  1. […] [Read the story] […]

  2. I enjoyed this. So romantic, then wham.

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