I kept waiting for Meira to start chattering again, but she stayed quiet and huddled up on the plastic chair next to me for the rest of the time we were waiting for Brian. I kept glancing over, at her arms wrapped around her knees, to see my grandmother's rings on her hand, wondering how the hell she got into the safe to get them if what she was saying wasn't true...
Wait. If? What am I saying? Of course it's not true! But.. if it's not then... how did she get the rings?
Brian came in almost two hours later. He didn't bother to do his usual knock, knock greeting, he just barreled into the room, breathing heavy, having obviously run up the stairs to my floor. He stood there in the doorway for a second, catching his breath, before saying, "Hallo."
Meira looked up. She'd been studying the woven pattern on the knee of her jeans. She stared at him in a fascinated sort of way. The way a wild animal looks at you before it runs away.
"Hey," I answered him.
Brian came into the room further, reaching for his back pocket, and produced the issue of People Magazine he'd just driven a sixth of the way South across the country to deliver. Then his eyes flitted to Meira. He stared at her in a fascinated sort of way, too. "Hey," he said to her, narrowing his eyebrows questioningly.
She answered by raising her hand in an arc of a wave.
"Brian, Meira. Meira, Brian." I said the names in a lazy sort of voice as I reached out for Brian's damn magazine, pulling it onto the rolley table and towards me.
"Meira?" Brian's eyes widened and he looked at me, then back at her, then back at me.
I stared down at the magazine.
Catching up with the world's hottest boyband. Twenty Five years and still going strong. Plus! Get the exclusive scoop on Nick's miraculous recovery and secret wedding. Backstreet Baby Teenagers: Father's Day Photos!.... Display until July 17 2018.
I looked back down to the magazine and slowly lifted it's first page, looking at the table of contents until I saw the page number for the article and flipped to it. A two-page spread photograph of the five of us huddled together in a studio, arms flung over one another's shoulders, filled the page. And I know there's a lot of pictures out there of me and the fellas, like more than I can count, but I knew this was not one I remembered taking and a chill went up my spine.
This was insane. It was crazy to even pause for a moment and think that this could be true, wasn't it?
My eyes skimmed the article. Word sets popped out at me - newly reunited after five year hiatus... multiplatinum new release, Infinity, featuring the single Stay With the Light... Meira Jung-Carter... private Vegas ceremony... honeymoon on exotic Japanese island....
I looked up. Brian and Meira were still staring at each other. Brian had narrowed his eyes even more, Meira was chewing the inside of her mouth, making her full lips pucker outward.
"You're in the article," Brian said to her.
Meira nodded. "I know."
"You've seen it, then."
She nodded again. "We did the interview together. All of us." She took a deep breath. "You spilled a cup of coffee on your pants." Meira laughed and looked down. "You were worried they'd be stained but they weren't."
Brian looked at me. "How the hell could you need more proof than this? Than her name being in that magazine?" He waved at Meira.
I couldn't wrap my brain around what was happening. It was like my body refused to believe that time travel coul exist. "I just - I - I just --- I mean how?" I asked.
"Miracle," Brian said.
"Quantum physics," Meira said at the same time. She took a deep breath, "It's math that Einstein essentially did almost a century ago, altered slightly and bent to fit the concept of passage." She licked her lips.
"But it's impossible," I stammered.
"Obviously not," Meira replied. "Or I wouldn't be here. You probably wouldn't ever have met me."
"I haven't met you," I replied.
"You gotta have faith Nick," Brian spoke up.
I sighed. Figures Brian would bring up the faith thing. He'd been on me about faith and God and stuff since he found out about me and my whole liver thing because, you know, as he put it he'd like to see me in Heaven someday, like he thought I was going to hell because I wasn't exactly the Bible Man he was. I mean, I believe there's something out there, but I dunno if I'm comfortable putting a label on it the way he is. I think there are things out there that we don't have any concept of at all.
And if this whole time machine thing was real that would only confirm those beliefs of mine more.
And that's a big if.
But, I realized, it was a way out of this fucking hospital without anyone (Brian) passing judgement, thinking I was trying to kill myself. 'Cos I wasn't trying to kill myself. My self was already dying and I just was tired of acting like IV bags and sterile walls and nurses and doctor rounds and blood pressure cuffs were gonna change that when nobody was giving me a liver any time soon.
This was my chance to get outta there and die like I was living.
"Faith, huh?" I said in a hushed tone.
"Yeah," Brian said.
I took a deep breath. I saw Meira close her eyes. She knew what I was gonna say.
"So where's this affy-davey thingy I gotta sign?"