"Yes. . . you're more . . ." selfish, I think, but I say, ". . . younger."
He considers it. "Is that good or bad?"
"Different." I run both hands over Henry's shoulders and across his back, massaging muscles, exploring indentations. "Have you seen yourself, in your forties?"
"Yes. I look like I've been spindled and mutilated."
"Yeah. But you're less - I mean you are sort of -- more. I mean, you know me, so. . . ."
"So right now you're telling me that I'm somewhat gauche."
I shake my head, although that is exactly what I mean. "It's just that I've had all these experiences, and you . . . I'm not used to being with you when you don't remember anything that happened."
Henry is somber. "I'm sorry. But the person you know doesn't exist yet. Stick with me, and sooner or later, he's bound to appear. That's the best I can do, though."
"That's fair," I say. "But in the meantime. . . ."
He turns to meet my gaze. "In the meantime?"
"I want. . . ."
I'm blushing. Henry smiles, and pushes me backward gently onto the pillows. "You know."
"I don't know much, but I can guess a thing or two."
Later, we're dozing warm covered with midmorning October pale sun, skin to skin and Henry says something into the back of my neck that I don't catch.
"I was thinking; it's very peaceful, here with you. It's nice to just lie here and know that the future is sort of taken care of."
"How come you never told yourself about me?"
"Oh. I don't do that."
"I don't usually tell myself stuff ahead of time unless it's huge, life-threatening, you know? I'm trying to live like a normal person. I don't even like having myself around, so I try not to drop in on myself unless there's no choice."
I ponder this for a while. "I would tell myself everything."
"No, you wouldn't. It makes a lot of trouble."
"I was always trying to get you to tell me things." I roll over onto my back and Henry props his head on his hand and looks down at me. Our faces are about six inches apart. It's so strange to be talking, almost like we always did, but the physical proximity makes it hard for me to concentrate.
"Did I tell you things?" he asks.
"Sometimes. When you felt like it, or had to."
"See? You do want to know. But I'm not telling."
Henry laughs. "Serves me right. Hey, I'm hungry. Let's go get breakfast."
Outside it's chilly. Cars and cyclists cruise along Dearborn while couples stroll down the sidewalks and there we are with them, in the morning sunlight, hand in hand, finally together for anyone to see. I feel a tiny pang of regret, as though I've lost a secret, and then a rush of exaltation: now everything begins.
Excerpted from The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Copyright Audrey Niffenegger 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without permission from the publisher, MacAdam Cage.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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