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Chapter Nine

It was clear while we were eating breakfast that Brian wasn't over the concept of Meira being from the future yet. He kept staring at her. She'd catch his eyes and smile in this really awkward way and kinda nervously laugh, then try to look away, but Brian would keep staring at her and she'd look at me like she was expecting me to help her. When Meira excused herself halfway through to get some more juice, I nudged Brian in the arm. "Dude, you're freaking her out."

"What?" he said, looking down at his food, "How? What do you mean?" He cleared his throat because he knew exactly what I meant. So I stared at him for a second with my best impression of how he was staring at her. He sighed, "I can't help it," he said, waving his spoon at me to imply that he got my point. "Have you really thought about it, man? Like really thought about it? She's from the future."

I shrugged and turned back to my bowl of cereal.

"No man. Stop for a second." Brian grabbed my bowl and slid it away from me. I looked up at him. "A woman from the future is here. In your house. She knows you and me and everyone and what's gonna happen tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. She knows it all. She's like... a crystal ball in the movies... only... reliable."

"If it's real." I reached for my cereal bowl, but he pulled it further out of my reach. I glowered at him.

"It's gotta be real, Nick. It's gotta be. Her name was in the magazine Carl got from the future, remember? How else would her name be in there? It's not like there's a lot of chicks named Meira running around. You don't exactly bump into one everyday. What's the odds of it being fake with her name in it? Nick, think about it. She can tell us what's gonna happen."

"I can tell you what's gonna happen," I said, "I'm gonna kick you in the balls if you don't gimme my cereal back." I wiggled my fingers at it and Brian sighed and pushed the bowl back in front of me. "Thank you." I shoved my spoon into it and shoveled a mouthful of cereal into my mouth. "Now as for Meira... I dunno," I said around the mouthful. "I mean... I dunno, it just seems too good to be true. I mean, I just get to parachute off into the future and never feel pain again? I'm dying and just like that I'm gonna be fixed, just boom - fixed because of an unlikely event like a time machine being invented right under my nose. Why hasn't the government hijacked the shit out of this machine anyways? You know, and do all kinds of army crap with it?" I chewed.

Brian put his hands on the edge of the counter like he was clinging onto it. "That's why it's so important for you to get to Carl ASAP, Nick. He's just waiting for the government to bust down his door and take the thing off to some kind of test site facility. He hasn't reported it yet, but the minute he does they're gonna be all over him."

I moved my spoon around in the bowl to make patterns with the cereal still floating in my soymilk. "And why does he wanna help me?"

"He's helping me," Brian replied.

I looked up at him.

"Nick, I don't want you to die," he said. Brian's eyes swiveled to the ceiling, like he was avoiding looking me in the eyes, like what he was about to say was hard for him to get out. And once he started speaking, I understood why. "Nick, I've lost enough time with you already, haven't I?"

I nodded.

"So he's helping me out." Brian turned back to his cereal.

"Okay," I replied. And I turned back to making patterns in mine.

We were quiet for several moments and Meira still hadn't come back. I had a feeling she'd only said the juice refill thing to give me and Brian a few minutes to talk or something. If she really was from the future and she really did know me and Brian real well then she probably knew what it looked like when Brian had things to say which he clearly did right now. It was kinda cool that she could read us like that, and she respected it enough to give us the space, too. I smiled to myself.

"Do you think she'd mind if I - I asked her something?" Brian asked, studying his cereal like it was some kind of rare specimen.

I looked over, pushing my empty bowl away and put the spoon on the counter. "I doubt it. What'cha gonna ask her?"

Brian sucked in a deep breath. "Just... about some stuff..." he chewed his lip. Then he turned toward me. "Nick, Leighanne and I haven't been...getting along very well recently."

I raised my eyebrow, not wanting to look excited but I'm not gonna lie I was a little. "No?" I asked. "Why?"

I could venture a guess but I didn't dare, afraid I'd piss him off.

He shrugged. "I just wanna know if we make it."

"I don't think she'd mind you asking her that."

"It didn't say anything either way in the article in that magazine," he said.

I hadn't really read the article well, only read the words that popped off at me. But I had a feeling that if it'd said something about Leighanne and Brian breaking up that it would've popped.

"So ask her," I said.

He nodded. "When I'm ready to hear the answer, I will."

I nodded, too.

Meira must've been listening at the door because she came back in the room a couple moments later, when we'd both been silent long enough that it was obvious the conversation was over and she had a fresh glass of orange juice and an overly happy expression on her face, like she was trying to make up for being so damn confusing. "So," she said, sitting on the stool across from us at the bar, "When are we heading up to Kentucky?"

"As soon as possible," Brian answered. "We need to get up there before anyone else finds out about Carl and the time machine and everything. If someone else gets a hold of it, we won't be able to use it until God knows when and by then --" he glanced at me, "By then it might be too late."

I stood up. "Well, I guess we better get going then. My liver ain't waitin' for nobody." I carried my bowl and glass into the kitchen, followed by Brian, and Meira, who was swallowing the juice she'd just poured herself quickly.

Meira followed me upstairs and set herself on the bed, legs crossed, and watched as I put things into a duffle bag after pouring all the crap I'd had at the hospital into the laundry bin. She held her toes in her hands as she sat there, Indian-style. "So," I said as conversationally-casual as I could manage, "What's it feel like, time travel?"

She shrugged, "Kinda like waking up, I guess. You know time's passed but you didn't feel it."

I nodded. That seemed logical. "What happens to present-day you when you go somewhere? Like if I'm going 5 years in the future, what happens to me now? What'll the fans all think I've gone to?"

Meira thought for a moment. "I dunno. I've only ever gone backward. And nobody notices when I'm gone. Except for you. But you're the one sending me, aren't you, so --" She paused. "Plus I always wake up back where I was."

I nodded again and set to work choosing shirts and pants and socks and shit like that. Meira sat there chewing on her lips. I was about to put a shirt back when she said, "No. Pack that one. Please pack that one."

I looked over at her. "What?"

"That's the one you --" she paused, closed her eyes. "Never mind."


She shook her head.

I folded it and put it in the bag.

"I can't do things like that," she said with a sigh, "I can't keep telling you about the future. It's gonna change your mind. I can't do that. I can't. You sent me here for a reason." She rubbed her knees. "God it's just so hard because I want to be like fuck it and just be with you."

I stared down at the things in the bag. "So why don't you?"

"Because," she replied. "It doesn't happen that way."

"Maybe it does now."

"It can't."


"Because in six months you'll die and I'll have never met you to come back to begin with. See?"

"It's confusing as fuck," I replied. I chucked a couple more things into the bag. "I dunno why I'm bothering to pack. I'm gonna change my clothes like once anyways. Maybe." I zipped it shut and threw the strap over my shoulders. "So I gotta question," I said.

"Yeah?" she asked.

"If it's so damn important that I get the message and stuff and I couldn't tell you anything, then why the hell didn't I come do this myself?" I asked.

"I don't know," Meira replied.

"I mean it'd be a lot easier to believe in time travel if I was confronted with myself," I pointed out. "Can't really go wrong with me bursting into the room."

Meira raised an eyebrow.

"I just feel like it's easier to think you're just a crazy girl than it would be to believe I have an identical stranger that's crazy," I laughed.

"Parent trap style," she smirked.

"Exactly," I said. "The odds of that are nil."

She laughed. "Do I really seem crazy to you?" she asked.

"You'd have to be at least a little to put up with me," I pointed out.

"True," she agreed.

"You agreed too easy to that," I commented.

Meira rolled off the bed and stood up next to me. "You said it first," she pointed out.

I stared into her eyes. They were pretty. They were brown and deep and sad. They were the kind of eyes I could imagine staring into for a really long time.

"Seriously how long does it take to pack a damn duffle bag?" Brian called up the stairs and I realized I'd been staring into her eyes for a lot longer than I'd meant to.

She blinked and I backed away. We started for the door, but I paused in the doorway. Without looking at her, I asked, "Is he gonna wanna hear his answer when he finally asks you?"

Meira hesitated like she didn't want me to know she'd been listening to us before. But then she answered, "Probably not."

"Okay," I said. And we headed downstairs.