Story: The Time Just Before It Happened

The Time Just Before it Happened - Take One

I could see the shift starting and knew I only had another hour or so. Monsieur Jean pointed to the desk with the papers and Madame Francoise shifted on her chair, clutching her folder on her lap. He was unaware of the quarole descending on the lamp chain, so maybe that wasn't here or not here yet.

Monsieur Jean spoke, his voice an octave lower than usual and very slow "I.... yououou... as.... our.... families.... have.... been....". He turned his head towards Mme Francoise and it floated off in the direction of the turn. I watched the lips continue to move and speed up again. M. Jean, seemingly unaware of the disconnect, pulled up his carved wooden chair, tucked in his coat tails neatly and sat down facing Mme Francoise. I watch him carefully fold his nicely manicured hands in his lap, wrapping the left fingers one by one around the right hand. His head completes the orbit and rejoins the rest of him.

Mme Francoise takes a deep nervous breath. "It's about my nephew here" she starts, glancing briefly at me.

I sit down in the tall grass and pet my cantrope, who is nuzzling its snout up to my hand, its little hands gently grabbing my thumb, the seven tiny nails on each little paw and its rubbery tongue tickling my palm. It twists around in pleasure. The morning sun is very pleasant on my face and I close my eyes.

"What about your nephew? As far as I know, he has always been a healthy and hearty fellow, not exceedingly bright perhaps, but friendly enough? I remember a chat I had with him - was it at your last garden party? anyway, he seemed to be interested in the keeping of cows, asked some funny questions if you ask me, wondered how old cows needed to be before they started to sing, so I set him straight right there that no well-thinking cow would contemplate singing, and that seemed to satisfy him."

Mme Francoise tenses her lips, reluctant to let her words of worry join the world and start a life of their own. She unwinds the leather straps of the portfolio and pulls out a number of family Kodak prints.

"I worry.. " starts Mme Francoise and tightens her grasp on the prints. "I worry" she starts more strongly "I worry whether my nephew is feeble, 'not all there' as they say, absent where he shouldn't be, not consistent!"

M. Jean shifts on his chair. "Surely" he says "this is a matter for his mother? I understand that there are some very fine institutes that specialize in helping the feeble-minded? If it is a matter of money, as you know, your father left you and your sister a very nice endowment!?"

I can see the ripple grip the room and twist the space. The entanglement was getting stronger.

Mme Francoise opens the embossed leather portfolio and pulls out the family photos. I can see that they are the staged professional photos, characters in formal dress, frozen in space and time, blank faces staring at the lens, heads and limbs supported by Brady stands to avoid motion that might upset the capture.

Image removed.

"M. Jean, your logic cannot be argued with. If this were a matter of my nephew's character and schooling, I would indeed trust my sister to look after this. However, my concern is with the constancy of his soul and presence in the Lord's Light, as it were, and as a godmother this is my responsibility!"

I watch my cantrope canter about the grass and stalks, singing its song of recognition and identity. I softly hum along and Mme Francoise frowns at me. She purposefully hands the prints to M. Jean who briefly lifts from the seat to receive them in his right hand bends forward to receive them in his right hand reaches out with his left hand to respectfully receive them and examines them carefully.

"Monsieur Albert, I assume?" says M. Jean "Your photographer? Such a talented gentleman, doing quite a nice spot of business I believe, now where does he have is office now again I wonder? Oh yes, in the new building along the canal - good thinking on his part! Lot of business of travelers wanting to have a memento!"

"You are quite right!" says Mme Francoise "These are from M. Albert. Took forever to take the pictures and the waiting was quite long. "

I remembered sitting for those pictures, and indeed, it took forever. This world, it seems, treasures silence over song and capturing posture for posterity rather than the fluidity of the moment.

Mme Francoise straightens her back and her starched skirts gets up in agitation and walks towards M. Jean sinks back in her seat as if a weight pushes her down.

"Monsieur Jean please peruse these pictures, and tell me what happened to the imprint of my nephew. Why is his presence not captured as any good Christian soul should be."

"What nephew?" says M. Jean, looking around the empty room. "As far as I know, you don't have a nephew?"

I join my cantrope in the song of joint, universal and inseparable being and walk to my studio. This recent reality, I reflect, will take a while to capture properly. Specifically their new ability to capture and freeze light is fascinating. I wonder how to put that into song.

The Time Just Before it Happened - Take Two

Image removed.

The first time Edward heard the voice he was 18 years old.

Terrance first heard it when he was only 1 year old.

Given these circumstances, their comprehension and what each could express in return was, obviously, quite different.

Terrance was laying in his crib at the time and the sudden sound startled him. He cried and was quickly comforted by his mother who had been reading near by. Terrance was not, generally speaking, am infant that cried overmuch and was soon calmed back into a contented slumber by his mother. The entire episode, seemingly normal, and passing from both their thoughts almost as rapidly as it had come about.

Edward's first experience was similar, only in that it also involved a surprise. Edward was, at the time, sailing home from Calais to Bristol in a berth on a packet engaged by his father; having just completed a 2 month apprenticeship with a french master jeweler. With unfortunate timing in a short sea the lively craft lurched riding down a larger wave just as Edward was traversing the break in the deck. He stumbled and thumped his head firmly against the main boom with an audibly thump. It was loud enough for those standing near to hear the sound but not so severe as to cause Edward serious injury. He cursed in annoyance trying on some of the newer French vulgarities he had picked up from his mentor. This earned a few smirks from the crew within earshot who knew enough French to appreciate the expletive.

It was not this reaction but the clearly audible wailing of an infant that caused Edward to look up and around in confusion. He was beginning to think he had hit his head much harder than he had though yet nobody else seemed to react to the sound and was about to inquire when the wailing tailed off and eventually subsided. When Edward awoke in the middle of the night to the crying infant yet again his concern increased.

Throughout the remainder of the trip Edward kept his new, condition to himself, fearing the ministrations of the ships surgeon and preferring to wait for his father's physician. However on consultation with the same, he simply advised rest and assured Edward that this was most certainly a result of the blow to his head and would likely subside in a fortnight.

It did not subside.

Over the course of the next months Edward was frequently distracted by the sound of a crying infant. However not only crying he began to hear other sounds as well, laughter, gurgles, all manner of other infantile sounds. On the advice of his father Edward concealed this new aspect of his life. Fighting the distraction during his work or at meals. Hiding it so completely that he even managed to become romantically involved with Margot, the daughter of one of his father's business partners whom he had always fancied.

Terrance had, by now, become used to the other voice in his head and the regular sound of if became a great comfort to him.

Edward was enjoying breakfast when everything changed.


His eyes shot up although he knew the voice. It was unmistakable to him know. This wasn't a head injury - although he had know this for some time know. This was a child, and it had just said it's first word.

The next six months changed everything, both for Edward and for Terrance. It didn't take long for Edward to realize Terrance heard everything he said, and he heard everything Terrance said. Edward became reclusive at first, afraid to talk, afraid of the child's reactions to what he said.

Terrance on the other hand was confusing his parents with unsolicited responses and the use of strange words, seemingly out of place.

Edward realized he was going to need to coach the child before things went very wrong on the other end… or, Edward tried not to think about it too much, before he proved himself truly insane.

Over the course of the next year He somehow managed it. Terrance learned his name, not to tell anyone about their conversations and to pretend his "imaginary friend" was not real/ Margot suspected something, especially when she caught Edward seemingly talking to himself on more than one occasion but somehow life went on largely normally.

One year later Edward and Margot were married. He had eventually confided in her what he was experiencing and while she may not have truly believed he was communicating with a child on some other dimension of existence, it didn't change the underlying love they both felt for each other. In time as they grew to accept this she would even ask how Terrance was doing and share in Edwards discussions with him.

Terrance was in school now. He had quickly learned what an imaginary friend actually was, and that Edward with his Margot, clearly was not. Terrance was a studious and quite intelligent lad who enjoyed school and was soaking up knowledge at a staggering rate.

Terrance's foray into school was confusing for Edward and Margot. He kept referring to concepts and tools that made no sense to either of them and all three of them began to encounter increasing levels of confusion when they spoke about what should have been the most commonplace things. Terrance, for example, had never seen a horse and didn't know what a chamber pot was. Edward and Margot had no idea what an instructor tablet might refer to.

That was the year they all realized Terrance was not living in a world anything like that of Edward and Margot.

By the time Terrance graduated from High-school, Edward's father had passed. Edward and Margot now had their own daughter Tabitha, who had grown up enamored with stories of their "distant Friend" Terrance and his exploits.

Terrance had become obsessed with understanding how and where his link with Edward had been forged. He was convinced they were both real, living in different dimensions or at least times, or both and wanted to understand if this was unique or were there others experiencing the same phenomena.

Terrance's obsession was concerning to Edward who felt his life long friend was avoiding the more important aspects of life. He understood little of what Terrance spoke about now, despite trying and despite Terrance's passions for the subject. A jeweler had only small understanding of such matters.

Despite Edward's cautions Terrance was accepted as a research assistant for one of the more prominent principal investigators in the field. Together, with Terrance's urging they began to explore the "possible" They met with others, people with similar stories, but the connections varied. Not always with those in Edwards world, it was clear through interviews that the connections ranged across many times and many worlds.

Through Terrance's thesis and subsequent research the machine to prove the theory was realized. Tabitha had since moved out to live in London, a budding career as a playwright well underway as Terrance confided in Edward that this would truly be the breakthrough they needed to understand each other. Edward was concerned but could only understand a fraction of what Terrance explained to him. Regardless, Terrance seemed to need their approval. Edward and Margot waited in their study as the moment drew closer. Edward paced, he was the more restless sort as Margot sat making a lame attempt to appear engaged in needlepoint, but she hadn't made a stitch in 20 minutes.

Edward looked at her and nodded, he had just heard Terrance make his historic speech, the speech that would be recorded in all the records and become a part of the standard curriculum. Then there was the pause.

Edward's eyes met Margot's

"Now!" said Terrance.

Tags: Story

Add new comment

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.