Mary Baked Her Pie And Thought Of Home

The physicist rocked back and forth in his chair as the smell of honeysuckle wafted lightly into his awareness. He had been running calculations, a past-time he rather enjoyed, particularly when he solved various equations he had not previously considered.

Relativity occupied a good amount of his thoughts, as did heat exchange and, most importantly, the amount of time passing in small increments that separated him now from him in 18 minutes. The pie would be ready in 18 minutes. Mary had been working at it all morning, and he had made a note of checking his watch every few seconds since she had put it in the oven, as if the act of measuring time would increase its flow.

Boolean statements fluttered through his minds-eye like a flock of starlets. If-then declarations, Aristotlean logic, and word games kept his rumbling stomach from winning too much of his attention. He had skipped breakfast when Mary made her announcement that morning. The pie was a celebration, and he intended to not let any go to waste.

The wind picked up and rustled the houseplants that sat with him on his porch-bound vigil. It was more important than ever, now, he told himself, and played three simultaneous games of sudoku behind his eyelids.

Miracles and coincidences often looked similar until you glanced behind the curtain.

The room wasn’t close to ready. This was something they’d been hoping for, certainly, but not something they’d been planning. It would all fall into place with a gentle shove, he was sure.

His mind moved swiftly, rearranging numbers and memories, shuffling possibilities until there was only one possibility. A game of three-card Monte played with time.

Something burst in his brain, bright light and screeching not a symptom so much as a translation of event. He stared at the influx of new memories, new possibilities and promptly began to sort them into categories. If-then statements, self-assigned variables, one-by-one canceling themselves out, blinking away like dying stars. The problem with time travel was that it constantly rewrote everything around it. The universe being made of numbers, all it took was moving around decimal points to get where and when you wanted to go.

The future was barren, and the influx of people trying to escape it made the past unlivable. There were pockets, though; safe areas where time kept on as it was supposed to.

The physicist hated time travel. Fortunately for him, every equation had a counter-equation. The sheer amount of energy required for time-travel worked as its own opposition. It was easy enough to see and feel the shift when something big was coming. Easy enough to tweak the variables one by one, and let a time-traveler find himself stuck in a cul-de-sac forever.

It was important to keep things safe. There was a baby on the way. The physicist believed in getting to the future the old-fashioned way: one generation at a time.

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