Out of Time: Five

Fiction By Anna // 2/7/2012

5
He jolted upright. “Dog or boy?”
I felt my eyes widen and put my hands on my hips. “Boy!”
He pointed his bony forefinger at me. “Do you fancy him? Does he fancy you? What’ve you been talking about?”
I started to smile at the accusations, just a little after so much anger. If I didn’t explain our friendship, Dad would panic when they met. Brodie would seem to be a stereotypical fit boyfriend: big eyes, dark brown hair without his mother’s red in it, elfish face, deep voice, and almost posh accent.
I met Brodie at the playground as a five-year-old in a black mood. Other kids kept running up to my swing and glaring when they saw me. After I’d glare back, they’d scarper, but a particular seven-year-old came back at least twice before he went home, each time throwing fits of surprise to find me still there.
I hated being ignored. Hadn’t I as much right to swing as any seven-year-old bully?
However prickly I must have looked, Brodie braved my loneliness. “Is that your mum?” He pointed at a bench where a blonde woman stared across the playground as if she knew I must be there somewhere.
“No, that’s Aunt Jess.” 
“I heard her call you Rhosyn. That’s pretty and really… unusual. What does it mean?” The sun lightened his hair, but even then his brown eyes invited me to talk.
For some reason, I couldn’t think of anything clever to say to this boy who used unusual as a compliment. “I dunno.”
“Oh.”
I winced, knowing how sullen I sounded, but he tried again. “I’m Brodie Taylor. Want a push, Rhosyn?”
“You’re saying it wrong,” I started to say. That’s when I realized he remembered, and in my eyes our friendship cemented before he knew he’d got through to me.
I got Aunt Jess to find a book of baby names and looked up Rhosyn. I told him it was Welsh for Rose, and he asked to call me that. I sputtered that he knew my name and remembered my name, and I liked my name; but the day came I couldn’t take another “Raaz in” and let him Anglicize it.
We also discovered Brodie means ditch. More out of self-consciousness than sensitivity, I let covered holes lie until we grew older, when I discovered he found it funnier than I did. Ah, good times. 
“So you must’ve noticed my only mate in the time you stole to mind me,” I said at the end of the abridged story, raising an eyebrow.
“I’ll get to that in my future.” Dad folded his arms. “I doubt he’ll believe you even if I say yes.” 
I casually scratched behind my ear. “Oh, I reckon Brodie’s used to oddness ‘round me.”
Dad eyed me down his nose. “It can only hurt to try.”
I snorted. “You’d know.”
Dad’s eyes seemed to deepen, all the more intense. “Yes, I would.” 
“But you don’t know Brodie. He’s—he’s—”
“You do fancy him!” 
Ignoring his smirk, I jumped up. “What are we waiting for? You can meet him right now.”
“We’ve got to go in my machine. In order to find to his address, I need to travel in time. A week into the future should do it.”
“It only does space with time? That—” I shook my head. “—is absurd.”
He harrumphed, stood, and tipped the remains of our coping meal into a dustbin. “Don’t think I didn’t notice that you never gave him a shred of proper support. You just told a story.”
I wanted to point out that he’d done the same, but he’d pushed me toward hating him, too. “His friendship’s been vital for so long, I’d be superhuman not to care for him.” Even though I had paused to order my words, I only realized how they sounded because of the strange look my father dear gave me. “Platonically, not that it’s any of your business.”
“That’ll do,” he said, leaning against the bin.
I smiled nervously. “So, where are you… parked?”
He motioned to the green door next to the bin.
“In there? But we can’t,” I said as a reflex. “It’s Employees Only.”
He crossed his arms and scoffed. “Aren’t you the smart aleck! Look ‘round, Rhosyn. What other doors do you see?”
I turned and saw two more employee doors on each side behind the counter. Instead of plain green like them, the one we loitered by had a strange, circular metal dent above the printed words. Come to think of it, isn’t this a wall with the street behind it? I thought.
Dad fished a gold fob watch out of his pocket and clicked it into the groove on the door. The contraption vooooshed into the door, and cracks of light shone around the edges.
Miss Piercings behind the counter heard the door with a puzzled expression. Dad smiled, waved at her, and turned the knob. “It’s not a proper door, and no one noticed,” I whispered.
Dad said, “It’s only a time machine.” He put one hand on my back to guide me in and closed the door behind us with his other.
Tapestries that could that could have been from a Viking lodge closed off the little hall. Dad hung up his trench coat and took my knitted shrug. Why is it so hot? I wondered. I dropped my handbag underneath the coat rack, where umbrellas of all sorts filled a stand, including one with the same beak as Mary Poppins’. 
“Why do you keep so many brollies? And what’s that smell?” My voice shook with excitement.
“Let there be light!” Dad threw his head and a tapestry back. Full sunlight poured in on us instead of the dimming autumn evening outside the chip shop.
My hands flew over my mouth. “Oh! Dad, it’s… it’s…”
A herb meadow grew in front of us, lemon-scented with exquisite green leaves and purple flowers. Two woodchip paths crossed the round garden, holding back the clumps of long, bent stems. 
“…it’s…”
“Heads up!” Dad pointed my chin up. A bird, a falcon I think, flew over us and disappeared at the edge of the blue sky. The sky with an edge? Its borders matched the walls, the same dimensions as the floor. A sky with proper limits!
“…it’s…it’s…” The most beautiful thing I’ve ever—“It’s… it’s bigger on the inside!”
“You kids think you’re so original.” He laughed as if he’d produced several more of the monsters. Considering his failing grade in fatherhood, I hoped not. “Actually, it’s just outwardly intangible. The wall and chip shop weren’t part of my ship, only the door, which attached to the wall. It would have opened to a wall without the key. With the key, the watch, it’s a dimension unto itself.”
I laughed. “You’re the Doctor. You’re so the Doctor. Maybe Nine ‘cause of your ears, or Ten. He’d a coat like yours.” 
“’Scuse me, I’ve a coat like his. He gave me his spare in black.” (At the moment, I couldn’t come up with one good reason to disbelieve that.) “Though I did name you Rose.”
I held up my hands. “Whoa, that’s going a bit far. You named me Rhosyn.”
“Have you never looked the meaning up?”
“Only Brodie gets to call me Rose.”
“I’ll call you whatever I like. Did you think it was up for negotiation?”
I glared at him. No way did he get to order me around.
“Good job I like to call you Rhosyn.”
I crossed my arms, glad our positions were settled. “You said—Mum was from ancient Britannia.” I had trouble getting the sentence out, because I’d still not forgiven him for what he’d done to us. “Is that why my name’s Welsh, then?”
“Er, she lived in what would later be called Wales.”
“Did you ever crash out of your time.” I stared around, incredulous. For the first time, I noticed a golden display at the intersection of the two paths. The tower came to about Dad’s waist, constructed of interlocking gizmos. Together, maybe they made some sort of steering. “I was going to ask for TARDIS-flying lessons, but now I reckon I’ll apply for another instructor.”
“I keep telling you, it’s not really a TARDIS, more of a time garden. T-H-Y-M-E, the herb thyme—can’t’ve been named for nothing.”
With mixed feelings I report that I smiled at his pun. “I think I’ve read that in a book. Well, I say I read it. At any rate, Brodie tried to have me read one called The Time Garden.”
“Edward Eager took a few liberties with my story, but considering he recalled anything of our encounter, he was brilliant! I don’t really know what makes the garden grow, but as long as the thyme’s fresh, the time machine goes.”
“It must feed off the energy,” I said. “Plants do a lot of it.” I started to work out how the time machine might have crashed in ancient Wales. When Dad had been stranded and met Mum, the thyme had wilted. And when the thyme—somehow—started to grow back, stronger and healthier, he ran out of excuses to stay in their time. Blooming was memory, and death was forgetting, two sides of a coin. I got it now, why they had started to forget him again.
“Oh, and do you, er, like it?” He didn’t crack a smile, expecting nothing but the truth.
I turned on my heel, absorbing the curved walls hung with souvenirs from other times. He’d pinned a photo of him in his twenties with an armed Venus de Milo next to some city map written in what looked like Elvish. I tuned out the overwhelming history.
“I love it,” I said, unwilling to find more sufficient words. I was happier than I’d been since, well… Despite my hatred of what Dad had done, my whole life I had never been this free. “Anywhere in time.” I smiled a daft, lopsided smile that would’ve looked better on a Labrador. “Anywhen.”
“I feel the same way,” he murmured. I knew his joy from the way the lights in his eyes whirled, and my eagerness to share the moment with him scared me. 
I still could have destroyed it, I protested to myself. I wouldn’t have been as selfish as he was. Is.
He slung his arm ‘round my shoulder and walked me down the woodchip path through the thyme. “Wasn’t half breathtaking the first time I walked in with Mark and Lydia, my marvelous machine. I’m torn between pity and disbelief when I think of them rejoining their time. Okay, just a little envy.”
“With—whom? You had friends?” I cried.
He gave me an amused smile. I ducked out from under his arm and corrected myself. “You had friends with you, I mean. When you… How did you come across this heartthrob anyway?” (I’m a geek about technology. I get it from him.)
He leaned on the golden interlocking gizmos. Up close, I thought I could make out a keypad, buttons, and a joystick in the jumble. “When I was nineteen, my two friends, Mark and Lydia had just married.”
The names sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place them. I kept studying the weird tower and managed to find a screen like a rearview mirror just above the keyboard. 
“We went for a walk in the woods and discovered this abandoned house. They got tired of being adults, so we explored. One of the ‘bedroom’ doors had a watch in it.”
“That door.” It seemed too obvious for a gesture or a question mark.
He nodded. “It opened into the machine.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Was it that simple? You just found it?”
“It was parked there, just waiting. We took it out for a spin, but Lydia and Mark didn’t like it and settled right back into our time. I’m not sure how well. Every time I start to check up on them, I find some excuse.”
Unlike the rest of the story, that didn’t surprise me at all. I stored away the information that their time could take them back. Between bringing up Brodie and now, I decided not to whinge about being out of time whilst slapping around the times of those I cared about—because I never wanted to be like my dad. Maybe just one trip would be okay.
“In the meantime, I couldn’t bring myself to abandon it again. I practically memorized the guide and learned to fly.” He ran his hand over some twisted metal that should have belonged on a saxophone. “Curious, I went on another trip. And another and another.”
“I see you never stopped.”
He turned his back on me. “Not for lack of trying. Speaking of the guide…”
While he sprinted back down the path, I asked, “Who left it there?” I didn’t know whether to hold on to my resentment or try to understand more, now that I had seen the machine. “Who would abandon such a brilliant thing in the woods?”
His shoulders moved in a shrug as he slipped back, leaving the posh curtains open. “Sometimes I wonder if he, she, or it left it for me. Someday I’ll find that wonderful waster and ask.” He rummaged in his trench coat pockets. “Did they invent time travel by the year 5000? I wonder…”
I watched him fling his coat aside again. This time I figured I knew what the brollies in the stand were for; the time machine had no shelter under its confined sky.
“Aha! I knew I hadn’t tossed it.” He waved a stained white paperback in my face. The cover showed a purple circle divided into quarters.
“The pictures a, wossname, representation of the garden,” I said.
“Instruction manual. Never say men can’t ask for directions.”
I pretended to pout. “And here I thought you were some sort of genius underneath your cold exterior!”
He raised an eyebrow, which somehow skewed his hawkish nose. “Has something changed that?”
We both chuckled, and I accepted the surprisingly thin volume. After getting Brodie’s address from me, Dad started typing on the keypad. Green text bleeped across the rearview mirror. 7doxf24h=for> … … … PROCESSING
Dad rambled. “I enter the date on the keyboard, and this screen records my progress. I could also access a log of travels, if I wanted to. I enter every date and place relative to the current one, which complicates the maths sometimes. If I forget a digit, it’ll go random…”
I sat cross-legged on a spindly white bench at the crossroads and flipped open the instruction manual. At least it wasn’t called How to Travel in Time for Dummies. The water-damage waved the pages when I bent the book or tried to make out the illustration on the page. The first chapter was called “Entrance.”
The portunit is activated through use of the transkeyunit (shown left) in the fastenunit. The portunit to your outphysnonunit is equipped with a shadowsetting that downloads and copies native portunits for integration. This does not compromise the transkeyunit…
I started to nod off and jerked upright again. Whaaa? 
I held out the incomprehensible instruction manual and shook it. “Did you spend the first decade decoding this by trial and error?” I asked Dad.
He turned toward me again and took the other end. After squinting long enough that my arm got stiff, he rotated the book upside down. “Try it now.”
“Ha ha.”
“Really, Rhosyn.”
I reluctantly pulled it back toward me. My eyes flew wide. The illustration, now on the right, took the shape of the fob watch in the door. The page now read:
The door opens when the translator key (shown right) is inserted in the lock. The door to your outwardly intangible time machine is set to blend in with the doors of the landing site. The translator key will still work…
I glanced over at the door, understanding how it had camouflaged in the chip shop. Apparently the “outwardly intangible” time machine always tried to latch onto a structure to look like a normal door. 
The cracks around it began to glow as a warning of takeoff. I noticed the shape of the watch-key from inside the door, too. I wondered if the socket helped Dad detect it among identical doors.
I stood and nestled next to my dad, eyeing his controls instead of him. “How did you do that with the book—and is that an iPod jack on your control panel?” I hadn’t meant to finish like that, but it just came out.
“’Tis indeed.” Dad crouched and cleared some woodchips from floorboard, which he pulled up. From the deep nook underneath he held up a thin silver pad. No question, a classic iPod.
“I expected something more… futuristic.”
I could tell he tried to look unoffended as he stroked his thin cheeks with one hand. “If you want a device for recording music from any time period, look no further than Apple, Rhosyn. Sometimes I plug ‘er into the controls so the time machine picks a year to fit a song.”
My ears must have pricked up like a horse’s. “Any Owl City on there?” Adam Young’s lyrics could lead to interesting times and places. I hoped my iPod had made it into my handbag like my camera, which stayed there by default.
He blinked. “How do you feel about Bowie?”
I sighed. “Even time travel can’t erase generation gaps. Typical.”
“I like to think I’m well-rounded, but when it comes to music, I’m very much in my time.” Dad looked apologetic. “We can leave that for later, eh?” He dropped the iPod on the controls with a clatter, stuffed the board back into the floor using his foot, and loped to the door. It had stopped glowing, and the mirror-that-wasn’t read ARRIVAL IN 0 SEC.
A fine smell of mulch tainted the thyme when I shuffled through the loamy woodchips. Both of us wrapped up in our coats, assuming one week wouldn’t bring summer outside the time machine. 
We tumbled out the door as if someone had flung open a packed cupboard. I stumbled a few steps, twisted ‘round to see why we’d fallen, and groaned. “Nice, the subtle approach!”
Dad had parked right next to Brodie’s front door.

Comments

Well, I love the references

Well, I love the references to the Doctor, of course. But if the guy met our dear Doctor, why didn't he think to say "By the way, I found this time machine thing, you have any idea where it came from?" --by the way, I had it decided for me that it's the clone-Doctor's TARDIS.  Compressed rate of growth and growing in another universe will explain that. And really, that wasn't my theory,  I didn't spend time thinking it over. It just ploshed on me...

Julie | Tue, 02/07/2012

Formerly Kestrel

I had to reference. :D

I had to reference. :D Unfortunately, because of the way time travel works in this story, David couldn't actually meet the Doctor. :( Or at least, it would be a verra different Doctor, what with being out of his time as well. But you could still interpret it that way until I post something different.

Anna | Wed, 02/08/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Still awesome! Mr. Watcher

Still awesome! Mr. Watcher and Rhosyn's voices sound very British to me now. Based on Rhosyn's descriptions, I think I will like Brodie a lot. :)

Erin | Wed, 02/08/2012

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

 Thanks! I'm glad you're

 Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying.

Anna | Thu, 02/09/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

It's overwhelming.

I take it there is much that one who does not watch Dr. Who will not instantly understand...

James | Tue, 02/14/2012

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Someone's being honest!

 It's not a fanfiction, so your answer is actually no. There's a joke or two in this chapter referring to Doctor Who, but the plot doesn't hinge on understanding the jokes, no matter what they reference. Does something particular have you confused - such as something in this chapter, about the time machine - or is it the whole story?

Thanks for catching up, by the way. :) I've been asking questions like this to readers on and off apricotpie, and I have been known to rewrite entire chapters to clear things up. So by all means, continue with your concrit...

Anna | Wed, 02/29/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Awesome (as always!)

Loved it!

I did not understand the Doctor Who jokes, 'cause I've never watched it (sadly!), but other than being confused about that, the story went on and the reference of the doctor didn't bother me too much!

There were a few things that stuck out to me.I believe you missed a "had" somewhere in there... and there was a line that just didn't make sense to me, but maybe it was just the way I was reading it: "“The pictures a, wossname, representation of the garden,” I said. I'm not exactly sure what "Wossname" means... is that another Doctor Who joke? And I think the "a" throws me off!

Other than that, it was fantastic! I like the struggle of Rhosyn, how she is still mad at her father, but still can't help but be awe-struck. It's cute!

I guess the only thing that I didn't understand about Brodie was why he didn't forget Rhosyn... but I'm sure the reader is not suppose to know that yet! Ha Ha!

Intriguing, and fabulous! Sorry it took me so long to read! LOL!

Please write more!

Write on!

Kassady | Wed, 03/21/2012

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

Thank you!

 I'm glad the Doctor Who jokes didn't put you off. :) I think I found the missing had, too, so thanks for pointing that out! Wossname is a more British version of whatchamacallit. Rhosyn was having a little trouble finding the word she wanted. So hopefully that's cleared up.

As for Brodie... that's up soon. :D Thanks so much for commenting!

Anna | Thu, 03/22/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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