When Time Forgets
This short story is more of a character study for a minor character from my NaNoWriMo 2015 (the same book that The Long Way Home is from). I hope you enjoy.
"Saw your mom today while I was out." The classy octogenarian Korean woman spoke into the cellphone she held in her right hand, while with her left, she flagged a passing Seoul taxi.
"She didn't recognize me," the woman informed her husband of sixty-odd years.
"We knew this day could come eventually, Naomi," the aged voice on the other end answered. "I didn't expect it to be today, though."
"I don't think any of us actually expected it," Naomi answered. "She was just sitting there. I walked over, said hello. Those brilliant blue eyes stared at me, and she smiled. Thought I was some crazy old woman come to talk to the bright young thing."
"Bright young thing? Never expected Mom to be called that ever again."
"She was all of thirty years."
"Thirty. It is near time, isn't it?" He paused. "I suppose your mother was trying to find her birth parents."
"Your mom said they might wander down to Gwangju. I told her they would love it there. I showed her the picture of the two of them at Niagara Falls. She didn't realize I was talking about them. Thought I was talking about some random women."
"She'll remember eventually."
A taxi slowed down. Inside, Naomi told the driver to go to the train station.
"When will you arrive home?" Her husband asked.
"Two hours or so. I planned to return to the hotel, but after this encounter ... I want to come home. She'll leave again. Almost like dying twice, I suppose."
"It'll be for the best, I think."
"I didn't think it would hurt so much to talk with her. To see her like that. I wish you had come up to Seoul with me."
"I would have been a blithering idiot, Naomi. Neither of us needed that. You were always the sensible one who could handle anything that happened.” His voice cracked. He paused to collect himself. “Did you at least get a photograph?"
Naomi snorted. "Of course I did."
"Joo-won will pester you the entire trip home for that photo. Our grandson the scholar. He's to meet you at the train station."
"All right." Naomi fell silent. "She looked lost."
"No, mine. I could see her talking with a couple. How do you tell them that everything will change? They'll lose their ways, find a new life, and live it to the fullest extent. They'll have grandchildren and great-grandchildren? They'll laugh and cry. They will find love in the strangest ways. How do I tell a thirty-year-old woman this when she believes she's visiting Korea for a short holiday while her best friend finds herself?"
"Time travel is tricky, my dear. Mom always said that. Sometimes you roll well, and sometimes you flunk." He sighed. "But at least you got to see them both, one last time."
"Our lives are nearing their end, and theirs are just beginning."
"Take heart, my love. For them, we don't even exist yet, and one day, Mom will remember back to the day she talked with you, and smile. I think you gave her the strength to make it."
"That's enough then. Ah, I'm at the train station. I'll be home in a couple hours." She looked at her wristwatch. "Have you felt the world change? They just went through the painting."