I believe in, above all else, the future.
This is why I was not surprised at all when I started spontaneously travelling to the future, while a mastermind visionary took my place.
My name is Helena. I love my name; it makes me feel like a powerful Greek Goddess. My mother named me Helena because she felt a strong affinity to Mt. St Helens while pregnant with me. It’s an active volcano in Washington State. I was born roughly a year before it famously erupted in 1980.
I guess I sort of identify with that, as a hot tumultuous mountain just holding it all in under the surface; or maybe more like a strawberry Starburst filled with lava.
I believe in God as much as I believe in gluten intolerance: which is to say, I don’t believe in it at all. Yet I believe in my individual importance to the universe in a way that I think all humans must to be able place themselves in the world. Since I was a small child, I have had this idea that I was important somehow. I think adults like to foster this by telling children they are special and “will do great things” over and over, rather then “You are normal and will do normal, mostly uninteresting things”, so that when we discover we are one of many functional yet similarly mortal creatures we retain a lifelong disappointment in ourselves.
I have been waiting my whole life to be proven particularly special, with fantastical abilities no one can comprehend, or to somehow irrevocably change the course of humanity.
So far, until now, my most indispensable ability has been a particular skill for descending stairs. Seriously though. I have a special technique of falling down stairs on my springy tip toes, using gravity to fall with a certain controlled splendor. This ability has yet to afford me any tangible benefit or recognition beyond saving what I estimate up to 2 seconds for every step conquered in this fearless manner. And although I haven’t prevented any time sensitive ground floor crimes in progress yet, at this point I calculate I have saved about 2 hours of time on my life using this superhuman skill.
However, this ability has not left me feeling I effected a lasting positive change in the world. Thus, when my super powers came to light, I was ready and willing to accept the final reality of my meaningful, valuable, and heroic life as a time traveler.
My therapist has been trying to convince me that I am in fact having intermittent blackouts and wants me to get in touch with my true self. She is clearly deluded.
The first time it happened, I was in front of my computer feeling defeated once again.
I have long suspected that the truth is, my real self is incapable of affecting change. My future-time self on the other hand is a force of nature.
That morning I had been driving circles around the block by my work, thinking maybe I’ll just keep driving. Maybe I won’t even say anything or go in, I’ll just keep driving until I get to the Beach. I’ll run on the soft compacted sands next to the edge of the ocean, with a white billowy shirt flowing behind me in triumph and suddenly I’ll leap into the air.
I cycled through different fantasies. Sometimes I was an astronaut. Sometimes a wizard. Usually a kitten or puppy would make an appearance. I knew in my deep, hot lava filled soul that there was more for me.
I did this every morning during the week. I woke up thinking, this is the morning. I’m going to do it this morning no matter what happens. I would park, armed with my fantasies and my steadfast commitment to it. The second I got out of the car, the visions of unicorns would begin to dissipate and give way to doubt. I have no savings, I can’t quit. My chest filled with fluttering razors and my throat felt hot. I would walk in, sit at my desk. And begin to work anyway.
What was my job? It doesn’t matter. I basically did unskilled computer labor. I worked at a company that manufactured packaging. I would spend all day feeling my ass bones sink into my butt skin and chair, feeling like my body and soul were melting into baser molecules.
That night I went home, heated up a frozen dinner and started surfing the internet for new jobs. I wanted to do something important. I pulled up Craigslist and started combing through the ephemera. I always find it strange that there is so little to find in so much on the internet. Craigslist is massively full, a black hole of information and the beginning and end of the known universe.
In the midst of this infinity: Nothing. I sighed in exasperation and closed my eyes. A split second later I opened them and yelped out loud.
“Arrr!” I gargled out like a drowning pirate, water spewing out of my mouth.
Suddenly I was standing by the sink, choking on a glass of water I had brought to my lips, no memory of how I had transported to this position.
I stared at the glass, confused. I set it down, and looked at the time: 9:15pm.
Strange. I checked back on my computer, and saw in my inbox one of those craigslist emails confirming a post. Apparently, I had posted a job offer. I was alarmed, but at the same time intrigued. I clicked on the post. The picture with the job posting showed a pug dog wearing a festive birthday hat.
The title read: New and exciting opportunity.
The description of the post read:
I am starting a new company with a vision to change the world. Seeking adventurous and fearless souls to join me in solving world problems and discovering valuable secrets.
-Exciting facial expressions
-Appreciation for baby animals
-General lack of Suckiness
Self confidence not required. Job begins ASAP. Please respond with manifesto and references.
Well, that sounds like a really cool opportunity. I wonder what the fuck I was talking about. I decide to call it a night and go to sleep.
The next morning, I eagerly checked my email. In the midst of daily junk, I saw an email entitled “Womanifesto.” Excellent beginning. I eagerly opened it. It was disappointingly short, and simply read:
It was signed “Janet” with a corresponding cell number.
That morning I went to work with fantasies of grandeur, running my own company, full of powerful women doing cool things. When I tried to think of what cool things we could be doing, I came up curiously short, but the feeling of general magnificence remained.
I texted her later that day on my lunch break. She wanted to meet up to discuss the opportunity. I had no clue either but felt like maybe I’ll come up with something in the moment.
We met up that night for coffee at a diner around 8:30pm. I spent sometime getting to know her. She was a little younger then me. She currently worked at Starbucks as a lead barista. She had spunk. She was excited for more opportunities. I asked her as many questions as I could until it got awkward.
“So, do you go by any nicknames then?” I asked, trying to maintain my façade of professionalism.
“Uh, no just Janet.”
“Great. And what’s your middle name?” I asked, pretending to take notes on a napkin with a crayon.
“Wanda. But what does that have to do with..” She was looking concerned. It went black for a moment again, I blinked and I was back, standing and shaking her hand. She had an earnestly amazed look on her face and she was nodding vigorously.
“I’m ready to do this. You don’t have to pay me. I should pay you! We are going to change the world.” She said, eyes shining.
“Right. Well ok.” I shrugged. I looked at my watch again. 9:15pm. Ok, I get it. Clearly I’m travelling to the future while a genius takes over my body.
I tried to explain this to my therapist the next day.
She nodded and I could tell she was trying to keep her face placid, but I saw hints of her brow furrowing.
“Well that’s definitely one explanation.” She said nodding.
That’s when it began. I had no idea what it was, but I would meet almost every night with Janet shortly before 9 and by 9:15 I would have mysteriously sent her off on a task, and left myself complicated lists of things to do.
It would read:
They seemed mundane on the surface but I knew they had to be bringing me closer to greatness.
I trusted in the genius that was taking over my body every night. It did often occur to me I had no idea what I was doing with this time, but I felt I had no choice but to believe.
And then, all at once, I didn’t travel. Janet came over as usual, we talked awkwardly, and I looked at the clock. 9pm came. Then 9:01, but I was still there. Janet looked at me expectantly.
“Ok! Let’s get to it.” She went to the door to the basement and descended. But she didn’t descend normally. She dropped down like a stone. Not as graceful as I, but pretty abnormally fast.
At the bottom she stopped, and looked up at me expectantly.
“What was my time?”\
I furrowed my brow, beginning to understand.
“Oh man you didn’t time that one huh. I’ve been working on it all week. Come on, show me how it should be done, I know we only have 15 minutes.” Janet said, stretching out one leg like a cat at the bottom of the stairs.
“Well, let me show you, you gotta stay closer to the edge of the step” I grinned, and flew down with the speed of a stair gazelle.
“Oh wow, ok.” Janet hiked up the stairs and tried again, flying down but still lilting on her left side. I laughed and finally understood.
“Stair racing is going to be so big!” I whispered.
“Duh.” Janet said as put the timer in my hands. “What’s with you today?” she said.
I smiled. I guess it was a genius the whole time, I was right. A stair genius. A stair descending genius name Helena.
“Alright, once again from the top!” I barked in my best coach voice and grinned.