She had been without him for three months, even though they hadn’t met yet. But tonight that would change. Tonight, she would decide whether to follow the path her life had been on, or to try something else and risk never finding him again.
Twenty-eight year old Lucy was stuck in her eighteen year old body. She still had her memories from her older life, but the time-warp which had landed her in her younger body was growing stronger. She didn’t know how it had happened or why, or even how long it would last. But she wanted to get back to her life. Her adult life.
It had started when she woke up in her old bedroom. Her teenage bedroom. The red walls and purple doona cover made her think her imagination was in overdrive. Was this perhaps some weird dream? The tipping factor had been that her dog, dead for several years, had woken her by jumping onto her bed. As she ran her hand over her dog’s ears, she knew this was more than a dream.
But tonight she wouldn’t just be living her old life again. Tonight, she had to face the first big event since she had slipped back in time, or her memories, or whatever this was. Tonight was the night she met her husband.
Lucy ate dinner thinking about him, about their years together. It had been a good marriage, rocky at times, but what marriage wasn’t? They didn’t argue or yell, they just sometimes drifted apart. But they always found their way back to each other. All it would take would be a kind word, a lingering smile and a deep kiss. Then, they would make love and she would fall asleep in his arms, knowing that this was the person she was supposed to be with.
Everything had changed when they had discovered she couldn’t have children. It broke her heart twice; first when she wept for the children she couldn’t have, and second when she saw his face break down in misery. She wondered if he now regretted marrying her. She had thought about asking him, but never dared. She wasn’t sure her heart could take it if he answered, ‘yes.’ Either way, they had still been coming to grips with their new reality and childless future when she had slipped back ten years.
Lucy dressed in her red spaghetti-strapped dress and drove the twenty minutes to the uni bar. When she arrived drunken boys were already spilling out past the bouncer as she squeezed inside. Cigarette smoke hung over the crowd, diming the strobe lighting.
He was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, because she hadn’t followed her original path perfectly, something in the universe had changed. Maybe he wasn’t coming.
Looking around the crowded dancefloor, Lucy wondered if she should give him a few years to find someone new, someone who could give him the children he wanted. Maybe one of these girls. She could give him a chance to be happy, to have a family. Lucy decided she would give him three years, no two, to find someone else, and then she would track him down. If he was still single, it would be a sign they were meant to be together. For now though, she had to walk away.
But she saw him as she moved towards the exit. He was at a pool table, setting the balls in the triangle. His look of concentration was intense. His blond hair was moussed back, but his face was so young. Lucy was used to the man he would become, the one in his thirties.
He walked around the table, taking a swig of beer as he did, and took the first shot. Lucy felt her breath catch as she watched the man her body still longed for. She slid into an empty seat before she fell. A young drunk sauntered up to her but she pushed him away; she needed to keep watching her husband who was chatting with other guys and a girl. She’d never felt threatened by the other woman. But would they get together if Lucy didn’t appear in his life?
She watched him, unsure of her decision to walk away, to give him time. Was her determination strong enough to allow her to leave?
A tear ran down her cheek as Lucy thought of the pain her infertility had caused. She had to at least give him a chance. Even if that meant she would walk away from her own happiness.
As Lucy stood, a group of girls began dancing in the walkway, blocking her exit. Lucy checked over her shoulder. He was assessing the table, circling so that he faced her. She had to leave now.
‘Can you move?’ she yelled at the girls.
Checking over her shoulder again, Lucy realised that her husband had heard her. He was bent low, ready to take a shot, but watched her instead. Suddenly Lucy remembered everything; all the joy, all the tears and every time he held her, whispering his promises of love. She knew she should walk out, but she couldn’t make herself move away from his gaze.
‘Do we know each other?’ he asked, his voice low.
‘I don’t think so,’ she replied. She couldn’t say that they would marry one day.
He came around the pool table and stood close to her. Lucy felt an electrical charge jump from him, straight into her heart. It was impossible to think rationally when his body was close enough to heat her bare arms. He took her hand in his, caressing the skin and making tingles jolt up her arm. Then he leant in to kiss her.
She returned the kiss, knowing what was to come and hoping he wouldn’t regret it too much. As she did, Lucy felt herself slide back into her older body.
They were sitting on the lounge, his embrace containing every happiness as his arms enfolded her.