Previous Contents Next

Blind representation. It had failed – the time was not right.

The Right Time

Ten year old Henry lay on his stomach on the lounge carpet with his feet peddling in the air as if he was riding an invisible, upside down bicycle. His chin was cupped in his hands. He was reading Alice Through The Looking Glass and giggling like a maniac. Felicity, his mum, came into the lounge carrying a tray with a plate of scones, a butter dish and jar of jam on it. “Do you want a scone and jam for morning tea?” she asked.

Henry looked horrified. “No!” he said. “That’s not possible. I just read in the book that you can have jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today. It’s a rule!” He paused for thought and then continued, “I remember yesterday and there wasn’t any jam in it. That doesn’t seem right.”

“But when yesterday happened, it was today for you,” Felicity pointed out. “So of course there wasn’t any jam”

Henry thought about that for a moment, scratched his head then, with a soft popping sound, he vanished from view. Felicity stared at the place where he had been just a moment ago, but before she could react there was another popping sound and Henry reappeared, his face liberally smeared with jam. “I went to look at tomorrow,” he said, “and there was definitely jam. Lots of it. And now that I’ve come back here from tomorrow it means that this is now yesterday so I can have jam here without breaking the rule.” He snatched a scone from the tray, smeared it liberally with butter and covered it with a huge dollop of jam. He crammed it into his mouth and munched.

And that was how Felicity discovered that her son could travel through time and visit tomorrow whenever he wished.

In bed that night she told her husband Peter what had happened. At first he was sceptical. “That’s nonsense,” he said. “It violates all the laws of physics.”

“Then the laws of physics are wrong,” said Felicity calmly. “You can’t fault my logic.”

“OK,” said Peter. “I know how we can prove it one way or the other. Henry says he visited tomorrow and got fed jam. So all we have to do is be in the lounge tomorrow, well supplied with jam. We wait for yesterday’s Henry to appear out of thin air. If he does, we’ll feed him jam and I’ll agree that you are right and neither the laws of physics nor I have any idea what we are talking about.”

“That sounds reasonable,” said Felicity.

The next day Felicity and Peter were both in the lounge when yesterday’s Henry appeared with a popping noise. “I’ve no scones left,” said Felicity, “we ate them all. But there’s plenty of jam. Do you want a spoonful?”

“Yes, please,” said Henry, reaching eagerly for the spoon. When he was sufficiently smeared he said, “Thanks, mum,” before vanishing back to yesterday.

Felicity turned to Peter and said, “See?”

“I never did believe in physics,” said Peter. “Superstitious nonsense if you ask me. It’s all the fault of quantum, you mark my words.”

Over the next few weeks Felicity and Peter became quite accustomed to having Henry pop off to visit tomorrow and they enjoyed having Henry from yesterday pop in to say hello at regular intervals. Sometimes yesterday’s Henry came to play with today’s Henry and sometimes today’s Henry would go and play with Henry tomorrow. And whenever one of them was in his yesterday or in his tomorrow, that particular Henry would claim his jam, sometimes on a scone, sometimes on toast and sometimes just on a spoon.

Felicity, who was in charge of supplying the jam and making sure that the rule was properly applied, quickly became confused. Which Henry was which? Thinking about it made her brain hurt. She simply couldn’t keep track, particularly when each Henry was wearing identical clothes, which they usually were. Yesterday, today and even tomorrow all began to seem a bit arbitrary as each Henry made the distinctions between them blur around the edges. “A Henry is a Henry is a Henry,” muttered Felicity to herself, channelling her inner Gertrude Stein. “But I suppose that because there’s only a single day separating each from the other that a Henry by any other name would still smell as sweet as Henry,” she mused, switching her inner poet to Shakespeare. “Not that he smells very sweet at the moment. Time he had a shower, I think.”

“Jam, please,” said Henry, interrupting her train of thought.

“Which one are you?” asked Felicity.

“I’m visiting from yesterday,” said Henry. That was clearly within the rules and so Felicity gave him jam.

“Me too, please,” said Henry and again Felicity asked him which one he was. “I’ve just got back from tomorrow,” confirmed Henry. Again this was allowed by the rules and so he too got his jam.

“We’re rapidly running out of jam,” mused Felicity as she put the jam jar back in the cupboard. “Perhaps it’s time to go shopping. Anybody fancy a trip to the supermarket?”

“No thanks, “ said Henry. “I’m going to play Magic, the Gathering with Henry.”

Henry nodded in confirmation. Felicity watched them play for a time and then she left them to it. When she’d gone Henry said, “This is the first time we’ve both had jam together.”

Henry nodded. “Usually there’s only one Henry who qualifies within the rules,” he admitted. He squinted at his cards and shook his head dolefully.

“I wonder how we successfully managed to get it together this time?” asked Henry.

“That’s simple,” said Henry. “I lied.”

Henry stared at him in shock. “You lied?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Henry. “I haven’t really come back from tomorrow. I’m still in today so I’m not really allowed to have jam.” He licked his lips and smiled, remembering the sweet taste.

“But that’s wrong,” said Henry. “You can’t break the rules.”

“Blindly following the rules doesn’t always work,” explained Henry. “When the time is right, you have to depend on finding a loophole.”

“How do you know when the time is right?” asked Henry.

“When you get jam today,” said Henry, smiling and laying down a card.

Previous Contents Next