His face was not as lined as you would think for someone his age. But those who knew him could see that his eyes, which had once flared with a crackling and dancing light, were dimming.
“What are you thinking?” she asked.
“How much I loved her.” He gripped her hand. “And how much I regret not being around to love you longer. If I only had more time.” The eyes closed as a long sigh carried words full of hurt, “How I wish she’d had… that we’d had…”
He stopped living then.
“More time…,” she murmured.
* * *
The table, a dark polished wood that reflected circles of light from the recessed lighting in the ceiling, was long and had a slight arc. The ends that curved toward him had the appearance of a bird swooping down. Seven men sat facing him. Their eyes watched him but only one mouth moved; the man in the center who had done all the talking.
“You are going to…” the man ordered.
“No,” he had enough. Nearly an hour’s worth of back and forth. “I’m not. It’s unreliable and you can’t test it on humans.”
“Your daughter believes these last adjustments make it safe.”
The man tapped the folder sitting in front of him with a thick index finger, the heavy, ornate, ring on the middle finger next to it caught the light, “We have to test or lose our funding—this program will be shut down.”
“So it’s about money.”
“It’s about national security and what this could mean for–”
“The world? That’s what you told me when you came to me offering to back my research.” He looked at each of them. “What we could learn, with accuracy, about our past… and a look forward into possible futures and outcomes. We could then adjust, change directions, and become a better society from the knowledge.”
The man’s mouth was now a flat line—lips tightly compressed. They parted slightly, “We can do that, too.”
The lie was buried underneath his monotone but he knew he’d never be able to dig it out and throw in his face. “What if someone dies? What if we create distortions in the time stream that have a ripple effect?”
He saw the sharp smile form on the man’s face. It was like the cracking of a straight tree branch over your knee to throw the pieces into a fire. The row of stars on his shoulders glinted as he shifted—a predator bunching their leg muscles to lunge. “I guess you didn’t think about those ramifications…” He paused and leaned forward the light now showing the scar that ran from hairline, just missing his left eye, to his jaw. “Before you took the money you seem to despise now.”
He couldn’t respond. It was what churned his mind and stomach every sleepless night. They stood and walked out leaving him with that thought.
* * *