Jimmy pulled the bag off of his head. He stood up. He headed for the door. When it opened, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Time travel was his latest fad. How to do it, what the effects are like. At first glimpse it just looked as if he had pushed open the door of his bedroom closet.
He got up, brushed off and pulled around his trousers until he felt comfortable again. Then he took 2 deep breaths and headed for the door. The first steps were anti-climactic: he stepped out of his bedroom closet into the rest of the room. Nothing happened. He thought that maybe he would experience a tingling sensation or something; almost anything to indicate that something was very different now but that didn’t happen.
If ever there was anything to clarify the difference between the inner world of one’s own consciousness and the facts of the objective world this seemed like it. He walked out of the room. He looked around for the clock. He grew excited when he could not find it - maybe things really were different now. Then he remembered that something else had also occurred: his little brother had taken the clock to his friend’s house for an overnight.
Jimmy sighed and his shoulders slumped for half a minute. Then he took another deep breath and stood up straight. Jimmy looked out the windows of his 2nd story bedroom: still nothing. Nothing noticeably different that is.
It occurred to Jimmy that maybe his time travel experiment had not worked at all. This thought reminded him about how many of his closest friends found him to be a strange boy. Half of them would have thought he was crazy to believe in time travel and to try it. He knew all of the girls he knew would be too afraid to try it - in case it really worked. The rest of the boys were either frightened of what could happen if it worked or indifferent to it: they had toys to play with; simple things like action figures and comic books, not complex things like time and space.
He took a few more deep breaths. His mother was always talking about yoga and stuff like that. She put shiny stuff in her forehead like old Indian women do, and went on about how citrous teas keep the 3rd eye chakra clean. Jimmy wasn’t sure about all that but he did know a few things. One of the things he was sure about was that shiny stuff on the forehead is just shiny stuff on the forehead. At the same time, he did feel more relaxed when he breathed deeply and when he liked the way things smelled. It was kind of like the thing about whether or not someone has bad breath but not identical to it.
Jimmy went ahead and headed for the stairs, wondering what his mom would think about this whole time travel thing - would it affect her yoga? Would she be so deep into some pretzel posture that she would not even notice that her only son had made time change by nearly half a day?
At the first floor, he saw something strange. It looked like a table; there was food on it but that wasn’t all. There were party decorations, shiny metallic blue ones. Jimmy remembered, with some displeasure, that he has a sister. Maybe, he thought, her birthday had rolled around again. He had forgotten all about that. Some of the kids at school were close with their siblings - good friends or serious enemies or a bit of both. Other kids, like himself, managed to survive in homes where their parents had brought other children and forced them to live together. Everyone ignored one another as much as possible and tried to live their lives with these strangers - called brothers and sisters, packed in closely. Jimmy was more like that. He really did not want to have siblings at all. It was bad enough sharing his parents with each other and their jobs - yes, both Jimmy’s parents worked.
A lot of Jimmy’s friends at school thought he was lucky because his parents were still a couple; they were even married to each other. Then he would go to their house and see his friends getting to watch TV shows they wanted to see and got to see how much single parents adore their precious children and Jimmy thought maybe it wasn’t so great to have married parents - even though it wasn’t horrible either. Jimmy liked his parents okay, but he thought they were a little weird. Sometimes his father was just this older who worked a lot and got real touchy feely with his mom. Sometimes the guy was okay; in fact now and then they would have incredible father and son bonding moments. Jimmy was jealous sometimes, but the emotion was manageable.
Jimmy’s feeling about his mom were a little funny. On one hand, they deeply loved one another and he loved how much his mother adored him. On the other hand, she was just this yoga freak who worked at a school and was basically a lot like all the other girls. One day he had upset her by suggesting that she become den mother to a girl scout troop instead of trying to be interested in his lego robotics hobby. She got so upset he might have actually made her cry. Mothers. She just turned to the old man - his father. Jimmy thought maybe they got drunk or something that night because a bottle of wine disappeared and he heard his father’s voice a lot that night. Jimmy doubted it really had anything to do with him. He had had a few too many Zen lessons to think that anyone’s behavior had much to do with him. Zen was Jimmy’s father’s answer to his mother yoga babble.
Then his mother came around the corner and congratulated Jimmy on his new time travel publication. He looked at her funny. She was wearing a green sweater; she seemed pretty normal otherwise. She wasn’t supposed to know about the time travel thing so he ran through siblings in his head: he was suspicious - who had ratted on him? Who had leaked this to his mom? Who knew? He had thought it had been a secret.
“The university just sent this today; I really wanted to do something special for you,” she said - handing him a booklet. It was a booklike thing; too funny to be a regular book; too thick to be a comic, too big and too short to be manga. It was a book like thing. He looked at the front cover and scanned it for signs that would make this situation make more sense.
Jimmy Bodeilo found his own name and an article about “Theories of Time Travel”. Apparently, he thought, kids in this universe are taken seriously. He opened the thing: what it actually was, was a trade journal for academic scientists. He looked for his article and found it. Then he started to read and as his did, his awareness of his mother dimmed.
The ideas seemed like his, but it did not seem like his own writing style. Jimmy did okay in English at school, but he would never describe himself as a writer.
Once he realized that it looked like it was his own work, his mind shifted and he checked for the date and the time. There was something different about it. The year was the same but the calendar wasn’t even the same. The year read 4752; it was like it was the Hebrew calendar or something. Jimmy looked up and recognized his mother. She beckoned; he went to her.
As he passed through an interior archway from one room to another in his home, a bunch of people sprang up and called out “Surprise!” Instead of it being mostly other kids, the group was an odd mixture of teachers, parents and other kids - friends of his. Some of them were from clubs connected with school. He smiled, happy but still finding this whole thing a bit mysterious. Was it like this because of his time travel or had his parents and teachers orchestrated this complex hoax as a birthday present or some kind of bizarre joke? He looked around the room again - there were 2 people from his theatre club in attendance. Even so, his robotics club mentor and his private physics tutor was there and some cleric from one of those religions where people meditate a lot was there to. Luckily, so were 3 of his best friends, and the girl.
Well, okay in reality some of Jimmy’s friends were girls but at the tender age of 14 years most of the girls never came over. The ones who were there: one was from the theatre club, another was from church and one was this brainiac girl from his math class. She was actually kinda pretty and she already needed a bra, put it that way. She was extremely good at math compared to everyone else, but Jimmy was even better.
He waited patiently as they made a big deal out of his discovery regarding how to refract light, and in doing so, to bend time. He mainly kept his mouth shut and let his mother go on for a while about how proud of him she is and about how much she loves him. Then she served food and beverages the grown ups - some of Jimmy’s favorite mentors and teachers actually, took turns talking about different aspects of Jimmy’s ideas and how lucky they have been to have been able to help him to develop to his full potential as the latest brilliant scientist.
After some meat and a cake - Jimmy has vegetarian friends so he knows what people might think. Jimmy believes that animals should be treated well and be allowed to live out their entire natural life spans instead of being slaughtered when they are still young so that Agribusinesses can make another $5. That being said, Jimmy is neither a vegan nor a vegetarian. He understands that not everyone agrees with his point of view. So he had meat and cake at this awesome party for his miraculous Time Machine that he was able to work on in his bedroom closet. Most of Jimmy’s friends just had their outgrown pairs of shoes and maybe an old stuffed animal or something in their closets. How had Jimmy fit a time travel device into his bedroom closet? Is it a really big closet?
Well, in fact, Jimmy’s closet had extra electrical outlets, a sky light and a few other rare features. Of course he had a Tesla coil and Internet access back there, as well as one of those chairs that helps people use good posture - unlike most furniture. The Tesla coil and Internet were mainly there just to give inspiration, but elements of how they work did contribute to how Jimmy Bodeilo learned to bend time.
Eventually, the grown ups stopped talking so much and the kids talked more. Jimmy’s friends were curious as to how he did it and whether or not his discovery would enable to skip gym class and if this was going to mean that he would get to graduate from high school without having to go through the last three years of it and things of that nature.
Jimmy was pretty sure that the only person who really cared about the project itself was he and the physics tutor but he suspected that the math girl was really glad this party meant she was able to come over - like, not just see him at school.
Finally, Jimmy said something. This did not happen until after he had eaten cake, which came at least 20 minutes after a potato that had sour cream on it, which he did not eat until after he had finished his meat. His parents provided excellent steak knives by the way.
“Um,” he started, feeling almost shy about it, “well, in reality I think I may have had some success with a time change experiment.”
His physics mentor piped up again: “Really, Jimmy isn’t that what this party is all about.”
Jimmy began to sweat lightly. He felt very much like the way he felt when he was caught in a lie, even though that wasn’t what it was. “Um,” he said.
“Honey, are you alright?” his mother asked. She did not have a sparkly thing on her forehead today but was wearing the same green sweater he had seen her in before.
He tried to pretend that he was for another two or three seconds and then found himself gazing deeply into his mother’s fabulous eyes and said as honestly as any son can be with his own mother: “Mom, I’m a little confused. I went into my closet and used my Time Bending device and then I came out and now I’m here. I - uh - I am not sure whether or not it worked but I think maybe it did. I feel, not nauseous…”
Jimmy sensed correctly his mother’s attitude towards him, scanning for the source of the discomfort - flu like symptoms? An emotional difficulty - cute girl at school? Grades? New video game? Need to use the toilet? Anything at all - what might it be?…something amiss?
“Um, no…really, Mom, I think that maybe the Time Bending thing really worked.”
“Jimmy that’s wonderful,” his mother replied.
“Here, here,” said the physics mentor.
“What makes you suspicious?” the math girl asked.
“Its you,” Jimmy said. “Its this whole situation.”
“Go ahead, tell us,” his mother said. “Would you like another slice of cake?”
“Yes, I’ll have more of the cake,” Jimmy replied. “The date is different. This journal and this party - I’m a little confused; is this a joke? I mean are you kidding? Are you serious?”
Jimmy looked around the room, to the other people at the table. He felt a little desperate, in terms of what he was seeking in their facial expressions. Faces softened, and shifted. The girl from the theatre group peered at her beverage, glanced down at her new chest and at her desert. Then she flickered her eyes past the cake at her friend. This put a new twist on the situation as far as she was concerned. “Jimmy,” she told him - knowing what’s its like to wonder if a scenario is all just a practical joke, “no offense but although we like you in the theatre troupe I don’t think we would go to such lengths to trick you.”
Math girl said, “I saw you this morning in school. I am hoping that I bested you on the most recent exam, or that we both scored 100% like we are often want to do. Do you remember seeing me there?”
Jimmy froze. “I was there, of course,” he said, “but how do I know from that whether or not I’ve bent time.”
Jimmy’s mother looked at her baby boy. “Jimmy honey, just tell me what’s different.” She could hear her refurbished maternal psyche echoing the times she would have said, “Tell Mommy what’s the matter Honey bunny sonny.”
Jimmy suddenly found it easier to respond. “Mom, this morning there was no journal - in the time/space I come from I have never been published, especially not in a physics journal. This party - I recognize all of these people from my life where I come from but this whole thing about my theories being respected by adult scientists and this little party…and the year on the calendar…that’s all really…I mean, I dunno, maybe its nothing.”
The physics tutor grew interested. He furrowed his brows and leaned forward. He laced his fingers together, elbows on the table, set his jaw on his hands and rocked back and forth, thinking without destroying his back muscles. “Son, do you have notes and may I see the lab?” he asked after what seemed like quite a while of group quiet. Everyone just breathed and waited patiently.
“Don’t call me Son,” Jimmy said reflexively.
“Sorry,” the tutor replied. The man looked at Jimmy’s mother. “So sorry,” he repeated.
“I can show you; its right upstairs….” he felt a bit embarrassed…”in my bedroom closet.”
The physics mentor was incredibly excited and suddenly felt inept about keeping his manners with respect to the meal and the lady hostess. “C’mon then, let’s go have a look,” he enthused, leaping up from the table. He tossed his cloth napkin upon the table, grateful to have not forgotten something so important, as the bottom of the table top and his thighs smashed awkwardly together. He shoved the chair backward. Fortunately, it was not on carpeting and did not crash to the floor behind him.
Jimmy’s mother was quite curious but she looked at the other girls and at the boys and other adults gathered at the table. Her face rather open in expression one of the other guests asked politely but somehow firmly and insistently, “May I have another slice of cake?”
Jimmy and his physics mentor head upstairs. In the back of his mind Jimmy gets a slightly weird feeling about his other friends because they pretty much just stay at the table and eat more cake. The middle aged man wearing a blazer and slacks - dressed like an old fashioned teacher, eagerly peers at the young savant and follow’s him to the boy’s bedroom closet. Jimmy feels funny again when they arrive, mainly because he does not normally bring guests into his bedroom, let alone his closet. He overcomes this mild
discomfort and leads his mentor into his peculiar scientific realm.
The laboratory is actually hidden behind a rail of clothing. Jimmy left it like this because it made the whole thing more exciting for him; like a great video or an old movie. There was really no other reason for it. He led the older man, and giggled to himself as he heard the instructor struggle with the clothing rack and sweaters.
The closet actually expanded on the inside. It widened out into something that had a lot of shelving on both sides. There was an interior lamp and an overhead window. All the way at the back, there was a tableau which was waist high to Jimmy. On the left was a Tesla coil. On the right was a set of physics dictionaries and encyclopedias. There was a set of fiction novels and a book of myths and then a few nonfiction works all about Time and Space. There were things which most people would view as simply ‘odd things’ lying around on the tableau and some charts and crystals that the girls might assume were more for fun and for show than anything else.
With the older fellow behind him, Jimmy began to explain the shelf under the window at the back. “Here it is; here,” he said. He pointed to a place where a piece of copper wire was stuck to some kind of clear crystal and taped or otherwise adhered to a map of some kind. Attached to both was a small time piece. It was an old wristwatch that he had won from an older girl in a Pokemon marbles match when he was younger. Nevertheless it worked in this configuration as the Time Adjuster for his science experiment.
The middle aged man muttered slightly and then clearly half asked, “…and that’s it?”
“Turn on the Tesla coil,” Jimmy suggested.
The professor did this. There was a humming, then crackling - light and noise both flashed and flickered. It was true: the scene seemed transformed by this. Now, the older man felt he was in the chambers of a real scientist. He took two deep breaths and then said to the boy, “So, this is it, then? You’ve done it? The thing there moves Time?!”
It wouldn’t be long for the atmosphere to get very stuffy. “Yes,” Jimmy replied, pleased that the grown up sounded excited once there was enough noise and light going.
“Is there any way to change it back, that you know of Jimmy, or have your experiments not gone that far?” His teacher really cared a great deal. He believed the boy, but as he had not traveled through Time himself, he wasn’t sure what to think.
“Okay,” Jimmy replied, “I’ll try to bring you back with me. Hold on.” Jimmy fussed around with the old watch and the moved the wired crystal along the little map. It really didn’t look as if much was going on at all. Thank God for the excitement of the Tesla coil, in actual fact.
A few minutes later, after what felt like a very long wait, the boy said, “Okay…I think that’s it. He breathed deeply and loudly. Now we go take a look and see if it’s worked. Please, if you would, turn off the Tesla coil.”
The instructor did so. There was too much ozone in the air. “May I pop the hatch?” he asked the juvenile genius.
“Sure, I guess,” Jimmy said, “but only slightly, I can’t have any wind in here when the equipment is so sensitive to changes.”
After opening the window, the teacher struggled to get out of the closet. It was mysteriously difficult. He was a normal sized man and there lots of things in there and the bars were low - he ended up backing out.
Soon enough they were out of the closet in Jimmy’s bedroom. He looked around. He frowned. It was boring. It was exactly as it had been when they had gone in. “I know,” he heard the boy say from behind him, “the same thing happened to me.”
“What?” asked the elder.
“Its not any different,” Jimmy said. “I know; that’s what happened to me before.
Nothing was any different until I went downstairs.”
“Well, if that worked let’s try that again then,” said the physics tutor. He and the boy went out into the hall and headed down the stairs.
Sure enough, this time, Jimmy checked the clock in the dining room and it was the same. His mother was not hanging about in the kitchen - there were no signs of any party. There was the sound of the music his mother used for her yoga practice which she did at the same time every day for the past year.
He found a calendar and it proved to be the same as he had had in the first place. He was glad. He felt he had come home to the right Timeline. He wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but that’s what experimentation does. One might not get predictable results.
The professor followed the boy. He noticed that the award party was not even there in the other room. He peered over Jimmy’s shoulder and saw that a calendar hanging on the wall was in most ways identical but the coding of the year was completely different and there was a reference to a month that doesn’t even exist. He felt - not nauseous, but strange. This was in fact, somehow in another region of TimeSpace. He did not feel at home now, not at all.
“Is anything else different, Jimmy?” he asked in a hushed voice.
“Yeah,” the boy replied, almost snapping, “I’ve never been published. That magazine that you showed me - that never happened. No one takes kids that seriously here. You teach me here, but that’s just thanks to my mom hiring out a private tutor so I can go at my own pace with the physics.”
The man seemed slightly startled. “Where are the others?” he asked.
Jimmy shrugged. “I dunno. They’re probably all still around,” he said, “but we’re not having any party and my theories have not appeared in a journal.”
The man seemed perplexed. “Oh,” he said.
“I’m not really sure what else is different,” Jimmy said.
“Can we go back?” the man was nervous.
“I think I am back,” Jimmy explained.
“Oh,” the physics teacher said.
“Will you take me back, Jimmy?” he sounded slightly frightened. Adults often get a spooky feeling when they realize a child does have control of a situation. It isn’t always a good idea.
Luckily, for the adult, Jimmy is quite a good boy. “Sure, of course,” Jimmy said.
The man sighed with relief.
The two went back upstairs and went through an almost identical experience as before. The Time travel really was silent and terribly boring without the Tesla coil running - unless you knew precisely what it was that made it work, and only Jimmy Bodeilo knew that.
This time when they went downstairs those people were in the dining room. The girls had just finished the second slice of cake and one of the boy’s was considering another piece of meat. The tutor was relieved. Jimmy felt weird again - that not quite sick feeling was back.
He joined everyone at the table asked for a copy of the journal in which his work was published. They passed it to him. He ate a bit more and then started to sweat. “I’ll try to contact you again,” the tutor said.
“I think I had better go now,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy’s mother looked confused.
“Ok,” the physics tutor said.
“Excuse me Mom,” Jimmy said as he got up and left the table with the physics publication.
Sure enough, he returned to the closet and re-adjusted time. When he did the journal disappeared. He had wondered about that. He left his closet and checked things over. Everything appeared to be normal and in order. He made a few notes in his scientific diary. Jimmy’s strange experiments were working.