February 9, 1981
My grandmother came over to my apartment, and we recorded our film. I set up the camera, along with a few lights, I wanted to make sure that she was well lit enough that it wouldn’t allow for any doubt of its authenticity in thirty years. I wrote a little bit of a script for her to read, in order to convince my parents of who I truly am. I knew my father would be skeptical, and while DNA would be an option, but I wasn’t sure I could get that far without more evidence.
“Hi Maria, Hi Scott. By the time you see this film, or Michael calls it a tape. He says it will be a tape, or disk or something by the time you get to see it, but by the time you see this, I’ll have passed away. Mike hasn’t told me much details about that, but he wanted me to record this, because he’s going to need to convince you that he’s who he says he is.”
She held up a picture of me, and told them that I was not actually Darren, but their son from the future. The picture she held up was one of the first from my time here, and I knew would look closest to the me of 2010, which I was hoping would help, since they would become used to older me by then.
“Michael, told me that he will be born on August 29, 1984, and his sister Samantha Joanne, will be born on June 6, 1986. He told me about President Bush, and Clinton, and then another Bush, and finally Obama, and September 11, which sounds awful. Today is February 9th, 1981, and Michael says in 6 months there will start to be reports of a new disease, that it will be known as gay cancer, and eventually it will be known as HIV/AIDs. He told Melanie, his girlfriend of this time, who you have met, about this as well, and they’re hoping to do something, even though it’s such a massive problem that just knowing about it will not be enough.”
She looked down at the notes I had written for her. She didn’t look happy like normal, and I knew part of it was that in knowing my birth date, she had a little more knowledge of when she would pass away, and it must be weighing heavy on her.
“Is that enough?” She looked at me, and not at the camera.
“Um… almost. Just explain the last bit…”
She looked back at the camera, and spoke again. “Mike told me that he came back in time, partly with the intent of meeting me, and learning about his family, but also partly with the intention of saving your lives, yours and Sam’s. So, he needs you to believe it is him, and he can also do DNA testing to help you believe, but you need to listen to him. Or you’re going to die.” Now she was crying.
“That’s good.” I turned off the camera, and ran over and gave her a hug, and helped her calm down.
“Is it going to be enough? Are they going to listen to me?” She sobbed into my ear.
“Yes. We’ve already seen Sam, as an older woman, so it works. Now we just have to figure out how to get everything in order.”
She took out a cigarette and smoked it, and I could see her regain composure.
“Do you want to film again? So I can talk to them personally?” She sat back in her place and started a second cigarette.
“Maybe after you’ve had a chance to calm down.”
“I’m calm, and I might get worked up again anyway.” She sounded much more level in tone, and I knew she was telling the truth, but I didn’t want her to do it yet.
“Maybe when you’re done with your cigarette.”
“I think if I just keep smoking through the video it will help me stay calm.”
“I’d prefer not to show you smoking though.”
She looked at the half smoked cigarette in her hand, for a second curiously, then it turned to suspicion.
I nodded at her slowly.
“Oh. If I stop, will I still?”
She sat and stared as the little cherry of flame slowly fizzled closer to her knuckles. Her level of fixation made it hard for me to know if she was still aware I was standing across the room from her. I let her have this moment. All morning long, I had tried to let her have every moment to absorb the awful information I was bombarding her with. After a very long moment, she placed the cigarette into the ashtray, into one of the grooves reserved for unfinished cigarettes, without snuffing it out. She then slid the ashtray out of the area we had discussed would be ‘in frame.’
She wordlessly looked up at me, and gave me a gentle roll of her fingers to indicate I should begin filming again.
“Hi Maria. First, I want to tell you I love you, and secondly, I’m sorry I don’t get to be there for most of your life. I am however grateful that I got to meet Michael, and I will get a couple of years of knowing him. Also, I got to meet, Samantha. I met her as a woman in her fifties, and it’s hard for me to picture you at that age, but she looks a lot like you. She’s beautiful. She’s also a nurse practitioner, and an incredible woman. I’m very proud of her, and because you helped her become that woman, I’m so incredibly proud of you.” She took a big sip of water from a glass I had placed on the coffee table for her. “Mike says, that he’s not sure if it will just be you and Scott seeing this video, or knowing the truth, but if you show this, or tell your siblings, I want you tell them each I’m proud of them. Mike has told me about all of them, and their careers, and their children, and their achievements. I cannot believe all of the life you will all fill into your lives.” She was crying again now. “Or that I will have 13 grandkids. Mike said that he used to tease Sam, and all of his cousins that he was my favorite, because he was the only one that I knew about, but that’s just not true. The younger version of him probably couldn’t imagine sitting with me and telling me, but we’ve talked for so many hours over the last nine months, and he has told me stories and descriptions of each and everyone of them. So Maria, I need you, if you can, to pass along the message. Ok?”
She took another sip and wiped away the tears from her eyes.
“Ok Scott, it’s your turn. I’ve liked you from the beginning, but Mike has really let me know who you will become.” She let out a long sigh. “Thank you. Thank you for being a wonderful father to my grandchildren, and a wonderful husband to Maria. He’s told me about a man who is more steadfast in his beliefs, than perhaps any other I’ve met, and I think you’re a good man. I’m really glad that I got to meet you, and that I’ll get to see some of this for myself over the course of the next couple of years.” She stopped talking and sat quietly looking at the camera, I don’t know if she waiting for me to call ‘cut’, but she seemed done.
I stopped the camera, without noticing, I had begun to cry gently too.
“That was great.”
“Thank you, Michael.” She stood up and hugged me, and went to the bathroom compose herself.
When she came out, she told me she wanted to go get some fresh air, and try to get back to normal before going home. I hugged her again, and closed the door behind her.
After I broke down all of the equipment and put it away, I went out and checked the mail. A letter from the mystery traveler was there.
Thank you for finally responding about Sammy. I’m glad she’s ok. I cannot tell you how I know her at this point, but I will tell you, that we will meet, eventually. Don’t worry too much about me. I traveled back for my own reasons, which will not interfere with yours, but I know what will happen to you over the next thirty years, and I will help you out a couple times when things get out of your control. That’s all I can tell you about that.
As for now, I assume you got the P.O. Box just to write to me anonymously, but since I know your address, and your identity, you should save your money. Also, if you’re moving let me know where. Ok? I’ll be in touch when you need me.
I put the letter with the others from him, and the anonymous letters from Sam, and slid them behind my bookshelf again. I had too emotional of a morning to worry about this mystery traveler.
I think, I’m going to get dressed and go for a run. The air is cold, but there is little snow or ice on the sidewalks, and I need to get out.