The time traveler's wife
talking to the neighbors, at least one of whom
evidently saw me trying to break into the yellow and white Victorian house we
are parked in front of. I don't know where I am in time. I've been here for
about an hour, and I have fucked up completely. I'm very hungry. I'm very
tired. I'm supposed to be in Dr. Quarrie's Shakespeare seminar, but I'm sure
I've managed to miss it. Too bad. We're doing Midsummer Night's Dream. The
upside of this police car is: it's warm and I'm not in Chicago. Chicago's Finest
hate me because I keep disappearing while I'm in custody, and they can't figure
it out. Also I refuse to talk to them, so they still don't know who I am, or
where I live. The day they find out, I'm toast because there are several
outstanding warrants for my arrest: breaking and entering, shoplifting,
resisting arrest, breaking arrest, trespassing, indecent exposure, robbery, und
so weiter. From this one might deduce that I am a very inept criminal, but
really the main problem is that it's so hard to be inconspicuous when you're
naked. Stealth and speed are my main assets and so, when I try to burgle houses
in broad daylight stark naked, sometimes it doesn't work out. I've been
arrested seven times, and so far I've always vanished before they can fingerprint
me or take a photo. The neighbors keep peering in the windows of the police car
at me. I don't care. I don't care. This is taking a long time. Fuck, I hate
this. I lean back and close my eyes. A car door opens. Cold air—my eyes fly
open—for an instant I see the metal grid that separates the front of the car
from the back, the cracked vinyl seats, my hands in the cuffs, my gooseflesh
legs, the flat sky through the windshield, the black visored hat on the
dashboard, the clipboard in the officer's hand, his red face, tufted graying
eyebrows and jowls like drapes—everything shimmers, iridescent, butter fly-wing
colors and the policeman says, "Hey, he's having some kinda fit—" and
my teeth are chattering hard and before my eyes the police car vanishes and I am
lying on my back in my own backyard. Yes. Yes! I fill my lungs with the sweet
September night air. I sit up and rub my wrists, still marked where the
handcuffs were. I laugh and laugh. I have escaped again! Houdini, Prospero,
behold me! for I am a magician, too. Nausea overcomes me, and I heave bile onto
Kimy's mums.
     
    Saturday, May 14, 1983 (Clare is 11 almost 12)
     
    Clare: It's Mary Christina Heppworth's birthday
and all the fifth-grade girls from St. Basil's are sleeping over at her house.
We have pizza and Cokes and fruit salad for dinner, and Mrs. Heppworth made a
big cake shaped like a unicorn's head with Happy Birthday Mary Christina! in
red icing and we sing and Mary Christina blows out all twelve candles in one
blow. I think I know what she wished for; I think she wished not to get any
taller. That's what I would wish if I were her, anyway. Mary Christina is the
tallest person in our class. She's 5'9". Her mom is a little shorter than
her, but her dad is really, really tall. Helen asked Mary Christina once and
she said he's 67". She's the only girl in her family. and her brothers are
all older and shave and they're really tall, too. They make a point of ignoring
us and eating a lot of cake and Patty and Ruth especially giggle a lot whenever
they come where we are. It's so embarrassing. Mary Christina opens her
presents. I got her a green sweater just like my blue one that she liked with
the crocheted collar from Laura Ashley. After dinner we watch The Parent Trap
on video and the Heppworth family kind of hangs around watching us until we all
take turns putting on our pajamas in the second floor bathroom and we crowd
into Mary Christina's room that is decorated totally in pink, even the
wall-to-wall carpet. You get the feeling Mary Christina's parents were really
glad to finally have a girl after all those brothers. We have all brought our
sleeping bags,

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