It’s hard to stay together once you’ve watched your partner die.
Katie never understood this. She thought I was being irrational. “Everyone dies,” she said. Or will say, I’m not sure if she’s actually said it yet. “It’s something that happens. But you and I, we’ll always be together, at least some time. And whenever that is, it always exists somewhere in time, and it always will. Even death won’t do us part. So let’s enjoy our time together, for all time.”
It happened — or it happens — in Egypt in the biblical year 2011. No one knows what Katie is going to be doing back there, or precisely when in her own timeline it occurs, but we both know that it happens. Happened. Is going to happen. Whatever. I have to admit, it was my idea. Let’s tour the early Aughts, I said. The Age of Mass Media, so they called it in our history books. Before the bombs. Before the singularity. When mankind was on the precipice of change, speeding towards The Crash, when the rapid development of technologies opened up new opportunities in a global community faster than their less-evolved brains could ever handle.
And so we visited the times when the world truly began to change and evolve into the time from which we came. Our travel itinerary included stops at all of the most important historical events of the era, so that we could witness them first hand. Thus we found ourselves in the territory formerly known as Egypt somewhere near the end of the First Month of the biblical year 2011. Katie wanted to see the pyramids; I wanted to watch a revolution. They’re much more exciting.
We pushed our way through the steaming, sweating crowds of savages and supplicants to get a better view, and that’s when I saw her. She was the same as the woman standing beside me, only older, more tired and worn. She’d lost some weight — not that Katie had much to lose in the first place — and she looked as though she hadn’t slept in years. Perhaps she hadn’t at that. I hesitated for a moment, unsure of whether or not I should direct Katie’s attention to what appeared to be her Future Self before us, but that moment was just long enough to allow a bullet hit her in the temple and splash her beautiful brain across the statue in the square.
Katie and I returned to our hotel room. We slept on opposite sides of the bed that night and never touched. She tried to reach over once, but I moved myself down to the floor. The next day, I told her it was over. It was pointless for us to stay together, knowing that would be our future. I kissed her once before I left, but all I could see was the slow-motion bullet break against her skull.
Sometimes I return to then, and watch the scenario play out in real-time. Maybe one of these times, I’ll point Katie out to herself, and I don’t know, maybe she’ll turn her head to watch and it will cut the air just right to move the bullet off its course and save her life. But every time she dies, and I miss her just a little more.