I speak with my sister every week. Our Sunday night phone calls have developed into a tradition that we haven’t missed in the past three years no matter where I am in the world or how hard she’s working. We plan in advance to both drink the same wine and since she likes lights, fruity whites and I’m always drawn to deep, rich reds so we take turns choosing a bottle.
We try to keep the topics light and the bitching to a minimum but you know how it goes, sometimes you can’t have that conversation until you unload some stress. The thing is this: I kinda love my life and I struggle to manufacture gripes just so we can have an even exchange. It’s never even, though. She tells me about the clinic and the losing battle with half her patients, the slog of fighting with insurance companies for payment and her family issues. I don’t want to get into that. Sorry, but just talking about it stresses me out. When we speak I am left feeling powerless and frustrated. Last time I saw her, on a layover in LAX, her hair was gray and wrinkles were crowding her eyes.
Today’s phone call is different because my sister told me she had actually come from the future. She wasn’t really my sister, not the one from my time, anyway, and for the past few months I had been speaking with another version of my sister. A facsimile from another time, and my actual sister had left everything behind and moved to Morocco where she now lived in a two-story riad in Fez.
I asked her, “So, why haven’t I winked out of existence? Isn’t that what happens when you meet someone from another time?”
“No,” she said, “it only works like that in the movies. When people from different times meet it just creates an alternate existence where the new relationship is made manifest. It’s not a big deal.”
“Oh.” I imagined a cluster of alternate realities vying for elbow room on some cosmic plane and the escalating real-estate prices of alternate realities. “So, why you’d come back?”
My sister from the future, shrugged. “You know how it’s been for your sister. She’s going through a rough patch and I figured she could use a break. I’m holding down the fort while she pulls her shit together.”
“Why Morocco?” I asked. “She, you, don’t even speak French, let alone Arabic.”
She shrugged, “I don’t know, maybe she needed a change of pace? Hey, can I call you back later? I’m at the clinic.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said. “I’ll be home around ten, give me a ring.”
“Great, the kids should be in bed by then.” And she hung up the phone.