The Time Traveler’s Mistress

You’re exactly what I would’ve wanted ten years ago…

I began 2015 making a new friend.  Texting on my glowing screen as the champagne corks popped as loud as the fireworks and smoke filled the air with the new year.

Eighteen.  Red hair and fishnets, band-aids over her nipples because bras are too restricting, she knows her way around a six-string, and she can sing better than most girls on MTV.  And she writes, beautifully.  But most importantly, she’s into me.  You are exactly what I would’ve wanted ten years ago.

I have not yet stumbled across the point-of-no-return of thirty that brands me permanently’ as an adult.  ‘I’m still young’ I keep telling myself.  And by god I am going to do this.

I can smell the damage on her like a slow gasoline leak.  Its invisible acrid-sweetness permeates into everything she does, every decision she makes.  Wealthy parents who bought her every advantage except for self-preservation, a sordid past of boys with bad intentions, and most importantly– an affinity for assholes with fluffy hair and brooding dispositions.  That is the biggest crack in her windshield-world view, bending and refracting the burning light of my own failures and self-loathing, and illuminating me into something artistic and sparkling.  This is going to end in flames, but it’ll probably be fun most of the way down.

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I’ve always wanted to use this picture in a post.

And in a way, we fit.  Me trying to wrench back the hands of time to ten years ago, and her trying to grown up enough to match my stride.  I get a snap chat.  I Learn what “bae” and “fleck” means.  I use them in conversations, sparingly.  I keep hoping her youth is going to rub off on me like two crayons banging relentlessly in a pencil case tossed down a flight of stairs.  It wasn’t too long ago she was toting a lunch box and clutching crayons in her tiny fist.   I push the thought from my mind.

She wants to play backgammon at all hours of the night, until I’m burned and chaffed.  I wake up and she’s already started a game with my unconscious-petrification.  While driving, while hiking, while she’s on the phone with her parents.  It reaches the point that I’m dehydrated from match after match, where the sparks that usually ignite are unable to catch, and all those commercials for little blue pills that I once laughed at, now begin to terrify me as an imminent future.

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“…if it lasts for longer than four hours, please seek medical attention.”

I’m startled by the realization, our symmetrical bodies thumping in rhythm is not enough.  I want good conversation.  I want to drink wine at the beach.  I want a future that extends further than class and maybe finals week.  She makes me feel old.  Her problems: parents, friends, school, seem minuscule compared to the ever looming “oh shit what am I doing with my life?”  And I find myself chiding, scolding, and giving advice more than being a partner.  And then it hits me: holy shit I am her surrogate-fill-in for her father.  I am daddy issues banged out with handcuffs and hickeys, and maybe that’s why she really likes spankings.  And I am everything wrong with a lot of things.

But it was fun.  And I’d probably do it all again.

…If I were ten years younger.

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