Her apartment begins to feel small with three people. I keep my distances away from Sky, though it was becoming more difficult for each instance. Not after too many dismissed interactions Yumi begins to question it. Pulling me to the side she tries to get at the root the of changes. “You know if we’re going to make this work, you’re going need to stop seeing his face in her, it’s not her fault.” I try to craft the right words, but before I can Yumi requests a response. An ugly sort of hatred for myself is in my voice. “It’s not his face that I see in Sky.” Yumi looks confused and announces it. “Then what, I don’t understand. You’ve been afraid of her since you got back, you were so warm before, what happened? I mean she’s only two!” My cowardice gets to me and I turn to the window, she places her hand on my arm and pulls me back. “What is it?” She asks. I swallow the small amount of spit in my mouth then speak. “It’s her…” A vile shiver flows through my body, I long for a dark hole to crawl into. “Her, what, I, her!” Yumi is far stronger than she looks as her hand slaps me clear on the cheek. I rub it whimpering. “You better not be one of those, oh fuck, what do I keep getting myself into with you?” She storms over and picks up Sky. In a defensive stance, she holds Sky in one arm and points to the door with the other. “You better leave now, or I swear to whatever I can, I will cut you in half!” I tried to plead with her, to let me explain, but the fire of her glows red. I pat my pockets for my device but it isn’t there, I stare at the jacket on the bed directly behind her, unreachable. Realizing there was not an option to hide, I heed to Yumi’s commands and leave the apartment. As I walk away I can hear the multiple locks engage.
The sun puts a spotlight on the filthy streets as the high-speed train overhead buzzes with electricity. For the first time I felt as a true stranger in this time, without the welcoming warmth of her arm, a home, now lost. I walk pass the building with the pink neon. I make it a few more paces away when I turn back. I take the many steps required to reach the machine at the end. The videos play without sound. I tap her screen and Yumi’s voice comes out the speakers. I don’t listen to the words, just the tone, how I missed that voice. I must have leaned against the machine for too long as a man who could break every bone in my body before I could ask why grabs me by the hair. “That’s enough free shows for you.” He says dragging me to the door. I am outside before I could count the steps. “Fuck you too!” I yell at the glass doors, but they don’t reply. I stick my hands in my pockets and walk back, I might as well try.
I hear the cartoon shut off as I knock on the door. “Go away!” Yumi yells. I lean against the door like the vending machine, but her tone isn’t the one I’m seeking. “You got to believe, whatever it is you may think I did, I didn’t. I just found out, I should have said something but I didn’t know how to. Please let me in, please. I’ll explain it all to you, I guarantee!” There’s silence. I sit down with my back to the door and begin the story from the start. “You see I was dumb, and I thought time travel could solve my problems, all of them. I changed things, moved time in a way that, looking back now was a mistake, I don’t know how I could fix it though I want to.” I told her everything through the door, the coffee shops, the long nights, the broken bones, the love I found, the love I lost. My selfish ways, how all of this is my fault and I know it. I didn’t believe I had that much talking in me, but I talked through the door until the light climbed its way up the wall to disappear again.
I pause as the story catches up with the last envelope. I hear the tone I longed. “Then what?” Yumi asks through the door. “Then everything sort of spiraled from there, like a death spin.” The locks disengage. I fall back as the door opens, a free fall, a spin. My head touches the soft padded carpet. I look at the nail polish on her toes, to her feet, the veins like tracks I follow them up until I can no longer see them, but my eyes know the rest of the way. “What’s a death spin?” She asks.
I sit at the tiny table in her kitchen, my hands stick to it, so I set them on my lap. Yumi works with the barely functioning coffee maker that she won’t let me replace as I hear the mumbled nightmares from her bed. It isn’t fair that children have bad dreams too. “So you have to take her?” Yumi asks walking back with cups of coffee. She set mine in front of me then sits down. The coffee is as thick as mud, but I drink it regardless. “For all of it to meet up you have to take her?” she asks again. I set my cup on the table and answer her. “Yes, for all of it, to this point and time to be, I have to do what he asked.” There are more mumbles from the bed then a burst of a cry. I follow Yumi out of the kitchen. Sky lies staring at the ceiling. It isn’t fair, I think as Yumi tries to calm her. Sky says something that can only be interrupted as a want for her father. Yumi looks up to me hopeless. It wasn’t the best time, but it was the only time.
I appear in her house before she was ever there, but the first moment she was ever there. She sleeps in my arm as her new parents struggle to their feet, her father more than her mother. “I can’t explain much, to the point that I need you two to look after her.” Her soon to be mother slowly approaches me but her soon to be father seems to stagger in a drunken stupor. “Take her, give her the home she always needed, I can’t give her that, I can’t.” Her Mother is within a meter of me. “But how do we explain this, where did you come from, why us?” I walk towards her and hand Sky to her. “It’s what he wanted, I’m sorry I can’t say more, but promise me you’ll protect her.” Looking down at Sky’s sleeping face I could see the attachment happen. A new mother’s promise made to a stranger. I step back to leave when her new father finds what he’s looking for. Pointing the Glock at me he squares his target then pulls the trigger. There’s no pop, no action. He looks at the gun, then to me. I smile at him, but in the back of my head, I’m thankful for safeties. With a smug voice I meet his eyes and say “One day, maybe soon, you’ll realize that you’re not such a fuck up.” The house turns into my house.
I kick off my shoes, peel my shirt off, scoop a bottle from the floor, rip the cork with my teeth, and spit it into ruins. I hear my phone beep a chime I needed to change. I pull it from the charger and fall into my bed. It was from her. I read the message, and a guilt washes over me. With one hand I write the reply, but can’t hit send. I miss you too.