To The Ends of the Earth
By Jeff Baker
It isn’t even like “The Jetsons.”
No moving sidewalks, no flying cars, no robots everywhere. I got a big payment (we all did) after “The Incident” (as they call it) that slipped the flight to San Francisco I was on ahead twenty years. The card the airline gave each of us gave us access to any cash we had left in our savings accounts (assuming we hadn’t been declared dead when the plane disappeared from radar back in 2018) and also gave us a large settlement from the airline. I was glad for the settlement, because the first part was pretty much worthless to me as I’d spent everything following Kyle to Japan and then back to the U.S. when I heard he’d left.
If only we’d gotten on the same plane.
I stare out the window. I’m amazed they still do passenger trains. I can at least afford that, the airline is giving the passengers a settlement. I spent the last month trying to track Kyle down. I even went to Greenleaf Produce, where he’d been working when we met five years, I mean, twenty-five years ago. They didn’t have any address in their files, and couldn’t give it to me if they had, but one of the managers (who had been a forklift operator when Kyle worked there) remembered me and gave me Kyle’s address off a Christmas card Kyle had sent the company about ten years ago. I’d gone to the address, an apartment, and had stood there for five minutes before I’d pressed the buzzer.
The woman who answered the door proved to me that women still wore hair curlers and kept cats in the year 2038. I asked if she knew a Kyle Carruthers, as I was thinking: please don’t be his wife, please don’t be his wife, please don’t be his wife.
She wasn’t. She said she didn’t know Kyle and she slammed the door in my face even as I was showing her the plane ticket I’d bought in 2018. I figured I had nothing to lose and nothing else to do, so I started knocking on the doors of the apartments on that floor and asking until I found someone who knew Kyle. It took me about an hour, but I lucked out. I found somebody who’d known Kyle when he’d been living there. And, yeah, they got the address with a Christmas card.
That’s why I’m on this train; it’s about the last thing I can afford after using the rest of the airline’s money to search for Kyle. I called him up. Yeah, called him. Something simple and it worked. He was living out in Colorado. We talked. A lot. For about a month and a half. He had been married to a girl he’d met, he was bi after all. He got divorced a few years later. He blurted out that the problem had been she wasn’t me. (I actually blushed when he said that!) So, I got on the train and moved out there. Of course, there was an age difference, something there hadn’t been the last time we’d been together. I was glad I’d been a couple of years older; it meant I was now only about eighteen years younger than Kyle.
The instant I kissed Kyle we knew all that wouldn’t matter.
So, I’m out here to stay and we’re happier than we’ve ever been. Of course, I was flat broke, but I won’t be for long. My kid brother (who now has a son who’s eighteen!) had my car put in storage when I disappeared. He said he couldn’t bear to look at it. It’s still in my name and it still works although, of course, they don’t let me actually drive it anymore. But I go around with it to car shows and somebody made me a pretty good offer for it. I guess I didn’t waste my time restoring the thing we found in a barn just out of high school. I laugh sometimes at the idea that I own the last ’57 Chevy since they took all the cars off the road. And that an eighty year old car that still runs would be a cash cow.
Enough cash for Kyle and me to honeymoon somewhere. Maybe Illinois.
I’ve always wanted to see the East Coast.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: A lot longer than it should be, but this is a slightly disjointed version of a story I started writing for a theme anthology I found out about right before the deadline. The theme being that a jetliner en route from Tokyo to L.A. gets in a time warp and lands in the L.A. of 2037. I figured someday I would re-do what I had and write up the full story, but for now here it is. I am too much a romantic not to want to present this version of this tale!