[Copic markers and pencil on paper. 9 in by 12 in. Illustrated by Katharen Hedges.]
The Fabric Through Time
Mother pushed me towards the time machine. Somewhere on the other side of this swirling portal was someone like me. Well, maybe. We’ve never received anything from the future. Once, a person was sent through to go to the future and try and make some sort of deal with them. He jumped through the portal, there was a scream, and he immediately reappeared as a still blob of flesh with an eyeball and a hand with 6 index fingers. So instead we simply gave things to whatever was on the other side of the portal, in hopes they would be people like us so we could have things in our old age without struggling to get them.
I looked back at mother. She raised her eyebrows, the outside of each eyebrow rising higher than the inside, Hurry up.
Once we’ve outgrown an object is when we send it through the portal. When I was two, my mom threw my pacifier in. When my basketball was almost entirely covered with duct tape to seal the holes but another one broke through the tape, I threw it in. Everything important to us is sent through the portal. Old clothes and excess foods go to the homeless in our time. We assume the future has enough food and clothes to not need ours.
Now I stared at the blue and purple portal spinning in to a center point. I clung to my tattered baby blanket. The edging was long gone, the edges of the fabric had frayed with some of the string hanging on, holes filled the middle where colored polka dots used to be. I had begged everybody I knew could so, to fix it. My mom, some girls down the street, even a seamstress. I had made the mistake of begging all of them, which is a dead give away that it’s important to me. Which is why I’m now staring at this spiral between metal wrapping around it in an oval.
“Alex!” my mom hissed through gritted teeth.
I held up my blanket for a last glimpse. In the blue light, my yellowed blanket almost looked white again. I closed my eyes. Someone on the other side will enjoy my blanket as much as I did. I gently wadded my blanket up and threw it, like I used to pass my bandaged basketball, into the portal. It disappeared without a sound. It was gone. But everything always made some kind of sound when it went through. Something was wrong. It hadn’t worked right. What if my blanket fell apart during the travel. What if I’d never see it again, even in old age.
“Come on, Alex,” my mom said, trying to sound cheerful but her annoyance came through.
I didn’t move, I stared and watched the portal, “Mother. It didn’t make any sound.”
Without waiting she responded, “Strange things happen everyday. Let’s go.”
I didn’t move. I couldn’t. What if it was some sort of malfunction and my blanket was going to come back? I had to wait and see. And hope it wouldn’t come back as a pile of string. Mother’s cold hand grabbed my arm. I tried to tear my arm from her grip but she started dragging me towards the exit.
The portal went silent. Everyone in the room held their breath and looked at the portal. The spiral had stopped spinning and small waves like the ones on calm lakes took it’s place. Then the center of the portal bulged out and a cardboard box fell through. I ran back to the portal and opened the box. There was a note on top of spotted white and yellow fabric. I pulled the cloth out first. Sure enough, my blanket had returned. Still yellowed in places but with new, white fabric where the holes used to be and added to the edges to make it square again. The edging was back on as well, silky and polka dotted all the way around. I hugged it tightly and reached back into the box for the card.
It read, “This is my first and only gift to us. This is the most important thing for you. It will keep us safe. Now that you have found me, no more gifts can be sent to the future. We wouldn’t want to have a self-caused paradox, would we?”