Elegy Flynn leaned against the bar glumly. She cupped her chin in her hands and rested her elbows on the bar. “I’m bored.”
I was lying on the couch, reading a magazine for the eleventh time. I was bored too. There hadn’t been a paradox in quite some time. That was what Elegy and I did. She was a goddess of Fate, and I was sort of her sidekick. We traveled through time fixing time paradoxes. When there were no paradoxes to fix, there was nothing for us to do. I sat up on the couch. “We could create new drinks again. That was fun.”
Elegy was the bartender in her time-traveling bar, and the last time that she was bored, we had mixed up at least ten new drinks. Most of them had turned out really well. I couldn’t remember the names we’ve made up for them, however, because we’d gotten really, really drunk.
“Don’t try and cheer me up, Cathy.”
“Fine.” I went back to my magazine.
Elegy sighed. “What if there’s never another paradox again? What if all of the time travelers have learned their lesson? What if they don’t try to change history anymore?”
I peered over the top of the magazine. “Could that happen?”
Elegy shrugged. “Anything’s possible.”
“So what would that mean? Would you have to still stay in the bar?” I bit my lip. “What would happen to me?” I was supposed to be dead. Elegy had rescued me. I had to stay in the bar, because it was out of time. If I rejoined the regular time stream, the Fates would see me and make me actually dead.
Elegy actually looked concerned for a minute. She wasn’t big on empathy. Then she waved it away. “There will be another paradox. Any second now.” She looked up at the ceiling, as if she were expecting one to just fall on her head.
Instead, there was a crackling noise as the television sets in the bar all came on. Crap! That was how Fate Central communicated with Elegy. They couldn’t know I existed. I rolled off the couch and hid behind it.
A voice filled the bar, but it wasn’t the booming, authoritarian voice I’d come to associate with Fate Central. It had a faint southern drawl. “Elegy? Did I get the right praxidikai this time?”
Elegy wandered out from behind the bar. “Who is that?”
“It’s Harmony, sweetie. Long time.”
“Harmony?” Elegy said. “I thought they had you stuck in the tenth circle of hell.”
“Oh, practically. But I figured out how to call out, so at least I can find people to talk to.”
“So, is this what this is? A social call?” I couldn’t see Elegy, but I could tell she was smiling.
“Not exactly,” said Harmony. “I’ve got a paradox for you to fix.”
“What? There haven’t been any paradoxes. I haven’t felt any.”
“How about The Baby Jimmy Paradox?”
“Are you kidding? No one can fix that paradox. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Harmony chuckled. “Well, sweetie, I’ve been keeping it contained for several eternities. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. And I think I’ve figured it out.”
“That’s what they’ve got you doing? Containing The Baby Jimmy Paradox? You poor thing.”
“Sure ain’t the best job I’ve ever had. Why don’t you come see me, sweetie? I’ll tell you all about it.”
Elegy hesitated. “Harmony, if I tell you something, can you promise to keep it a secret?”
“Sure thing,” said Harmony. “But you sound serious. Is this secret a big deal?”
“Oh you know me. Everything I do is a big deal.” Elegy turned around. “Come on out, Cathy.”
Slowly, I stood up behind the couch. Now I could see Harmony’s face on the television screen. She had brown hair and twinkling eyes. There was something mischievous about her smile. When she saw me, her eyebrows shot straight up. “You are not alone.”
Elegy shrugged. “Okay if she comes along too?”
“The more the merrier, sweetie. But who is she?”
“She’s Cathy. She’s my sidekick.”
I sort of hated it when Elegy called me that, but it bothered me less and less these days. After all, I pretty much was.
Elegy and Harmony said goodbye to each other, and the minute the television winked off, I opened my mouth to ask Elegy what the heck that had all been about.
She put a finger in my face. “I know you have a zillion questions. But hold on to them. Because I’m going to make us both a drink.”
That was a good sign. Elegy had been so bored before that she hadn’t even bothered mixing drinks. The fact that she wanted to now meant that her spirits were up.
Elegy clattered around behind the bar. “I’m fairly sure that it will take exactly that amount of time it takes us to drink these drinks to get to where Harmony is.” She set two glasses up and began filling them with ice.
I sat down on a barstool. “Can I ask questions now?”
Elegy poured liquor into our drinks. “You realize that by asking if you can ask a question you are asking a question?”
I glared at her.
She sighed. “Go ahead.”
“Was that Harmony person another Fate? Why did you say she was in the tenth circle of hell? And what is The Baby Jimmy Paradox?”
Elegy poured both of our drinks into a shaker and shook them. “Yes, she’s another Fate. She was a friend of mine.” Elegy set down the shaker and stared into space, a smile playing on her lips. “We were kind of an odd pair, her and me. She was always a little wild. And, believe it or not, I used to be pretty straight laced.”
“No, I believe it,” I said. “I met straight-laced you, remember?” A while ago, Elegy had crossed her timeline and developed amnesia.
Elegy nodded. “That’s right. Well, anyway, I was shocked and horrified when she completely broke all the rules and was punished severely. Although in retrospect, I don’t know why I was so surprised. Harmony was never one to follow the rules. Deep down, I think I admired her even then. Maybe there was always something rebellious inside me. Maybe that’s why we were such good friends.”
I was intrigued. “What did she do?”
Elegy laughed. “She had a fling with Julius Caesar. Then, when he broke her heart, she arranged it so Brutus would betray him and have him killed.”
I leaned back on the barstool. “You mean Julius Caesar wasn’t supposed to die? You mean she changed fate?”
Elegy nodded, still laughing. “She managed to make it all happen outside of the time stream, so there was no paradox. It was brilliant.”
“Whoa,” I said. “Fate Central must have been pretty angry with her.”
Elegy poured our drinks out of the shaker and into glasses. “You have no idea.” She handed me my drink.
I took a sip. “This is excellent. Thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome.” Elegy took a drink of hers as well. “For a long time, I had no idea what they’ve done with her, but I knew it must be bad. She’d screwed up so much that even fixing time paradoxes was too good for her. I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.”
“Well, I guess it’s good that you get to catch up with your friend.”
“Yep,” said Elegy. “Drink up, incidentally. We’re going to be there soon.”
I took a big drink. “So, what’s The Baby Jimmy Paradox?”
Elegy shook her head. “Only the weirdest paradox ever. Sometime in the twenty third century, a baby gets born. And it triggers a paradox.” She spread her hands.
“No one knows. It doesn’t make any sense. Paradoxes happen when someone changes the past. A baby being born shouldn’t trigger a paradox. And yet…”
I gulped at my drink. “So, if no one knows what caused it, how do they fix it?”
“They don’t. They contained it. It’s a little bubble of a paradox, and the Fates are using a lot of energy to keep it from spreading. They’ve been doing that for a long time. Apparently, that was Harmony’s punishment. Containing this paradox. Pretty horrible job, actually. I bet she was bored out of her skull.”
I considered. As far as awful punishments went, I could think of worse. “You can’t die, can you? Fates, I mean. You don’t die.”
Elegy shook her head. “Haven’t we covered this before?”
“Can’t you be tortured or anything, though? Are your bodies impervious to pain? It seems to me that if you did something really, really bad, your punishment should… I don’t know, hurt.”
Elegy rolled her eyes. “Sometimes, you have such barbaric thoughts.” She gestured to my drink. “Finish that. We’re here.”
Harmony had a table waiting for us with three chairs. It was inside what looked like an old train car. Like those old diners that are in big silver train cars. There was wine and cheese and crackers on the table. Outside the windows of the train car, however, things were flying around. Baby rattles, bottles, hospital beds, etc. Some of the things were the wrong color. It would have freaked me out, but I was used to it by now. That was what a time paradox looked like. Everything started floating and changing color.
The rest of the train car was sparse. In one end, there was a narrow bed. At the other end, there was a small sink and stove. I wondered if Harmony had control over the inside of his train car the same way that Elegy had control over the inside of the bar. It didn’t particularly seem polite to ask, so I didn’t. But it seemed clear that she had some kind of control. Otherwise, how could she summon up the wine and cheese? However, maybe she only had a limited amount of control, since the rest of the place was so bare. Of course, I could have been way off base. Perhaps Harmony just enjoyed a spartan lifestyle.
After Harmony and Elegy hugged and went through telling each other how good it was to see each other, we all sat down at the table.
Harmony snagged herself a cracker. “So how did you end up with a sidekick, sweetie?”
Elegy looked relaxed and happy. I didn’t know if I’d ever seen her quite so relaxed. She grinned. “She’s his sister.”
Harmony raised her eyebrows. “His as in the mortal that you fell for?”
Elegy nodded. “She was supposed to be killed by her abusive boyfriend, but…”
Harmony’s jaw dropped open. “You saved her for him. That’s so romantic, Elegy.”
Elegy shook her head. “No, it’s not. I mostly did it because I was lonely.” She smiled at me. “Cathy is a good friend. She puts up with all my crap.”
I was too touched to say anything. Elegy had never referred to me as her friend before. Furthermore, she’d never admitted that she wasn’t always easy to get along with. I ate a cracker so that I didn’t have to look at either of them.
Harmony sighed. “Boy, do I get the lonely part. I never see anyone. I thought I was going to go absolutely insane at first. Somehow I’ve managed to hold onto my sanity.”
“And figure out this paradox?” Elegy took a sip of wine. “I have to admit that I could hardly believe that when you said it. People have been trying to figure out this paradox for ages. How did you do it?”
Harmony smiled. “Well, I’ve had a lot of time, and I’ve used that time to track the threads of everyone involved in baby Jimmy’s birth. I’ve traced his ancestry. And I’ve traced the thread of Jimmy himself.”
I understood that every person has a thread that Fates wove. And I knew that Harmony, as a Fate, could follow these threads. But there was one thing I didn’t understand. “How does Jimmy have a thread? His birth caused paradox.”
Elegy rolled her eyes. “You’ll have to excuse Cathy. She asks a lot of questions.”
Harmony grinned. “Oh, that’s all right. I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone in so long I welcome questions.” She turned to me. “Jimmy has a thread because no one could’ve predicted that his birth would cause a paradox. And, in fact, it was what Jimmy did that helped me figure it all out.” She turned back to Elegy. “When I analyzed the threads of Jimmy’s ancestors and of Jimmy himself, I found something.” She leaned back, looking extraordinarily proud of herself. “Woodstock.”
Elegy looked impressed. “Woodstock. That could explain it.”
I was confused again. “Woodstock? Are you talking about the concert in the 1960s?”
“Exactly!” Harmony looked excited.
“But what does it have to do with Jimmy?” Elegy asked.
“He was a time traveler,” said Harmony. “He went there. And one of his ancestors was also at the concert.”
Elegy nodded slowly. “That’s got to be it. I can’t believe no one noticed this before.”
“What’s so important about Woodstock?” I said. I had no idea what was going on. Typical day with Elegy.
Harmony ate another cracker. “I guess you wouldn’t know, would you?” She furrowed her brow. “How can I explain this in a way you’ll understand?”
“Now you know how I feel,” said Elegy. “Every day, she’s asking me questions. She’s like a three-year-old.”
So much for Elegy being my friend. She was back to insulting me again. Typical. “I understand that if Jimmy was a time traveler, then he must have caused paradox when he went back in time. But why didn’t the paradox happen in Woodstock?”
“Because there aren’t paradoxes in Woodstock,” said Harmony. “The threads of that festival are a big tangled mess. Heck, the threads of the entire 1960s are big tangled mess. But Woodstock is definitely the worst of it.”
“See,” said Elegy, “the Fates take turns overseeing the weaving of threads. Whoever is doing the overseeing is in charge. The other Fates work on weaving individual threads within the outline that the overseer makes. In the 1960s, the overseer got pretty lazy. There wasn’t much of an overall plan, if you know what I mean. Everything got really topsy-turvy and changed around and confused. And when it came to Woodstock, he didn’t lay down an overall plan at all. So, in a way, it’s sort of impossible for there to be a paradox during Woodstock. Because there’s no real set way things are supposed to happen.”
I stuffed a few crackers in my mouth.
“Did that make sense?” Elegy said. “Because that’s the best I can do. If it didn’t make sense, too bad.”
“No I got it,” I said. “Actually, it explains a lot.”
“She’s pretty smart for a human,” said Harmony.
“Sometimes,” said Elegy. “She stayed with that abusive boyfriend for years though.”
“Hey,” I said. “That was my thread. I didn’t weave it.”
Harmony cracked up. “She’s got spunk.”
Elegy allowed this. “That she does.” She tapped her chin with her forefinger. “So how do you figure it happened?”
“I’m not sure,” said Harmony. “It’s very hard for me to figure out what happened at Woodstock. But he did something while he was there. He did something that changed him. So when he was born, he wasn’t the same.”
Elegy considered. “That’s not a lot to go on. What am I supposed to say to a volur? Find this guy and don’t let him do anything?”
“I don’t think you should use a volur,” said Harmony. “Technically, you shouldn’t be fixing the paradox at all.”
“I can’t leave the praxidikai,” said Elegy. “Neither can Cathy. She’s supposed to be dead.”
“Well, get him into the praxidikai,” said Harmony. “You can make it look like whatever you want. And it’s Woodstock. Even if it looks a little weird, everyone will be too stoned to notice or care.”
“Good point.” Elegy was thinking about it.
“When you’re there, I think it will be easier to pick up his thread,” said Harmony. “I would go myself, but this paradox has been contained for so long that if I did, releasing it would be explosive.”
“Of course,” said Elegy. “I understand. And I want to do it.” She looked at me. “What do you think, Cathy? Do you want to go to Woodstock?”
“Can we watch Jimi Hendrix?” I said.
“Probably not,” said Elegy. “But maybe. It depends on how long this whole thing takes.”
“Sounds groovy,” I said.
Landing in Woodstock was not the smooth way that the bar generally landed. We kind of crashed into the ground with a jolt. All of the glasses in the bar clattered, but none of them broke. Elegy made a rueful face. “I don’t like it here. Everything’s so… chaotic.” She took a deep breath. “So, what do you think we should make the bar look like?”
A 1980s sports bar was going to look out of place in Woodstock. But then, pretty much any structure was going to, wasn’t it? “Can we be like a tent that serves beer?”
Elegy considered. “I guess that would work.” She snapped her fingers. Everything changed.
The bar became a pavilion with coolers and kegs clustered in one corner. The tent had three sides, and the fourth side was open. I looked out at a sea of tents. Bedraggled hippies moved to and fro in front of the pavilion and between tents. The air was muggy, as if it had just rained. I could smell the faint odor of sweat, mingled with smoke from cook fires and joints. In the distance, the muffled sound of a screaming electric guitar.
Elegy put a hand on my shoulder, and I realized that our clothes had changed. I was wearing a loose peasant top and a flowing paisley skirt. Elegy had on a halter top and bellbottoms. Trust the Elegy to give herself the sexier outfit. “Don’t go past the edge of the pavilion, okay?” Elegy said.
“This was the only place I could pick up his thread,” said Elegy. “It’s towards the end of the festival, so it’s probably too late to stop him from doing whatever it is he’s going to do. But we’ve got to start somewhere.”
I peered out at the roaming hippies. “Which one is he?”
Elegy closed her eyes. “He’s close. He’s walking towards us.” She opened her eyes and pointed. “Right there.”
I looked in the direction she was pointing and saw a man walking slowly, looking around. He looked worried. He didn’t look that much different than the other hippies who belonged in 1969. He didn’t have a beard and his hair was shorter, but he seemed to be wearing pretty authentic clothes. He saw our pavilion and ambled over.
“Excuse me,” said Jimmy the time traveler. “Have either of you seen a girl?” He raised his hand to about chin level. “She’s about this tall. Got long blonde hair. We were supposed to meet here.”
Both Elegy and I shook our heads.
“Haven’t seen her,” said Elegy. “Why don’t you wait for her here in the shade? We’ve got cold beer. Do you want one?”
Jimmy shuffled his feet nervously. “I don’t know. I should probably keep looking for her. We were supposed to meet at least twenty minutes ago.”
“Twenty minutes?” Elegy shook her head. “I think you got stood up.” She went to the keg and poured him a beer.
“No, she wouldn’t do that,” said Jimmy. “We were going to go away together.”
Elegy handed Jimmy the beer. “You were planning on going away together with someone you met at Woodstock? You traveled a pretty long way to get here, didn’t you?”
Jimmy gave her a funny look. “Thanks for the beer.”
Elegy pulled me aside. “This could be it,” she whispered. “Maybe he stayed here in 1969. Maybe if we stop him from doing that, it will stop the paradox.”
“Maybe,” I whispered back.
“If this girl shows up, we separate them.”
But when we turned back to Jimmy, he was gone. He’d left his empty beer glass behind.
“Where did he go?” I asked.
Elegy shut her eyes again, concentrating really hard. “No… He’s gone back to the time portal. He’s going back to his own time period.” She opened her eyes, looking confused. “This wasn’t it. This wasn’t what we need to change.”
I chewed on my lip. “Didn’t Harmony say that one of Jimmy’s ancestors was at Woodstock?”
“Right. He interacted with that ancestor in some way that changed the course of who he was supposed to be.” Elegy considered. “Maybe I can track the thread of the ancestor. We can go at this the back way.” She squeezed her eyes shut again and opened them almost immediately. “The ancestor is right there.” She pointed.
A girl with long blonde hair was standing right in front of the pavilion. She smiled at us tentatively. “Have either of you seen a man? I was supposed to meet him here, but I lost my watch, and I didn’t know what time it was. I’m late.”
Elegy and I exchanged a look.
“You haven’t, have you?” The girl’s face fell. “I know it sounds crazy, because I just met him two days ago, but I am head over heels in love with that man. We were supposed to go away together.”
Elegy walked over to the girl. “Sorry. He’s not here. I don’t think you’re ever going to see him again. You didn’t happen to have… unprotected sex with him, did you? Are you ovulating?”
The girl made a disgusted face, turned on her heel, and stalked away.
Elegy waved her hand and the front of the pavilion suddenly had a side. We couldn’t see out anymore.
“Oh my God, Elegy,” I said. “That’s disgusting. You think he went back in time and got his ancestor pregnant? That is like extremely twisted incest.”
Elegy shrugged. “We’re talking a couple hundred years here, Cathy. They really are distantly related. I don’t know if it’s exactly disgusting…” She considered. “It might be a little disturbing.”
“Well, it would make sense, I guess. Because he was the one who would go back in time to do this. And with his DNA in the mix, when baby Jimmy was born, he wasn’t the same baby Jimmy.”
“Exactly,” said Elegy. “Maybe he was different enough that he never would’ve even gone back in time.”
“Thus negating his own existence,” I said. This was kind of intense. I took a deep breath.
“Well,” said Elegy. “We’ve got to stop them from having sex.” She got a faraway look in her eyes. “Near as I can tell, she was going to get pregnant one way or the other. She came to Woodstock in the mood to hook up. So if we stop her from hooking up with her great great great great great great grandson, she’ll hook up with someone else, and then everything will go back to normal. And the paradox will be fixed.”
“How are we going to stop them from having sex without leaving the bar?”
Elegy shrugged. “I’m not sure. But the more pressing problem is the fact that I can’t follow his thread.”
“What about the girl’s?”
Elegy didn’t answer for a while. “Everything so tangled up. I keep trying to follow something and then realizing I’m not on her thread at all. I’ve somehow jumped to someone else’s.” She rubbed her temples. “Okay. I think I’ve got something. Hang on.”
The pavilion lurched. Several of the kegs fell over. For a second, the interior of the bar flashed in front of our eyes. Then we settled again jerkily.
Elegy and I were both thrown to the ground. She stood up, brushing herself off. “Gotta say I don’t love time traveling in Woodstock.”
We were still in the pavilion with all of the sides drawn. Elegy waved her hand and the front disappeared again. We were in an empty field. Jimmy and the girl were sitting in front of us, their backs to us. It was dark.
I looked at Elegy for a cue. Should we get their attention?
But Elegy shook her head. “I’m making us invisible. Let’s just listen for now.”
Elegy and I moved right up to the edge of the pavilion. We could hear their conversation.
The girl had her head lying on Jimmy’s shoulder. “I could tell right away when I saw you that you were different.”
Jimmy brushed her hair out of her eyes. “I’m not that different.”
“You are. There’s something about you.” She giggled. “I guess it’s because you’re from so far away.”
“No,” said Jimmy. “There’s something about you.”
And then they were kissing.
When they stopped, the girl spoke again. “Tell me again that this isn’t crazy. We barely know each other. Tell me again that we can work.”
Jimmy looked deep into her eyes. “Listen to me. Have you ever felt this way before?”
The girl shook her head.
“I haven’t either. Whatever this is, it’s real. It’s love. We are meant to be together. I believe it.”
She sighed. “I believe it too.”
And then they were kissing again.
“When we made love, it felt like the universe was shifting positions, that time was rearranging itself to allow us to be together.”
Elegy closed the pavilion. “More true than you know,” she muttered. She looked at me. “Too late. They’ve already done it. We have to go earlier.”
I was starting to feel a little sad about the entire thing. “They sound like they’re really in love. It’s kind of a shame that we’re going to take all of that away from them.”
Elegy raised her eyebrows. “Two minutes ago, you thought it was super disgusting incest.”
She was right. It was unnatural and wrong. “I don’t know. Did you ever read that Flowers in the Attic book? They were brother and sister, but because of their situation, they fell in love with each other. It was inevitable and tragic. And maybe these two…”
Elegy poured herself a beer. She gulped at it. “I wish I would’ve put some liquor in this pavilion.” She gestured to the keg. “You want a beer?”
I shook my head. Elegy was avoiding what I said. “Just because things didn’t work out between you and my brother doesn’t mean that things will never work out in love.”
“Their love causes a paradox, Cathy. Maybe it’s tragic, but there’s nothing we can do about it. Do you want to just leave things the way they are? Let Harmony keep containing that paradox?”
I sighed. She was right. There was nothing we could do for them. “I guess not. After all, fixing paradoxes is what we do.”
“Damn straight.” Elegy chugged the rest of her beer. “We’ve got to go earlier to fix this one. Now if I could just follow her thread…” Elegy’s expression suddenly went extremely strange. “That can’t be,” she said to herself in a barely audible voice. She looked at me. “It’s because you mentioned him. That’s the only reason…”
And suddenly the bar was moving, jerking around even worse than before. I swayed on my feet and then decided to just sit down. It wasn’t worth the trouble. Of course the ground was sort of heaving and weaving as well. Eventually we came to a crashing stop. I was pitched backward.
Elegy was on her feet, waving her hands so that all the sides of the pavilion disappeared. We were up closer to the stage. I could see it in the distance, but I couldn’t make out who was playing. The dancing crowd stretched out in front of us. They were facing away from us, facing the stage. Except for one person. One person was facing our pavilion.
My brother. Reese.
He gave us both a lopsided grin. “I’ve been waiting for you guys.”
Elegy had changed the pavilion back into the bar. We were nursing drinks and sitting together. Elegy and Reese were on the couch, holding hands. I sat opposite them.
“I was starting to think you’d never figure it out,” said Reese. “I’ve been getting Fates to drop me off in Woodstock after every paradox I fix ever since we worked together to stop that guy who wanted to get his girlfriend back. Before that, I didn’t have a lot of hope. But after I saw you, and I knew it was possible, I had to try. Woodstock is such a mess that they’d never find us here. It could be a place. Couldn’t it?”
Elegy was grinning. “You’re a smart one, Reese. I knew there was a reason I had fallen in love with you.”
“And I can see Catherine too,” said Reese, grinning at me. “You still doing okay?”
I nodded. “I’m happy to see you. But I can make myself scarce if you guys want to… you know… I have to admit it’s kind of disgusting thinking about my own brother doing that, but I get it.”
Elegy smirked. “Well, that’s very gracious of you, Cathy.” She looked at Reese. “And trust me, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing right now than that. With you. But I can’t leave Harmony guarding that paradox for any longer than she absolutely has to. Not when I know how to fix it. She’s my friend, and she’s been there for too long.”
“You’re working on a paradox?” Reese said. “You don’t have a volur.”
Elegy and I explained the situation to Reese.
“We have to go back to before they met and stop them from ever seeing each other for the first time,” finished Elegy.
“I think it’s sad,” I said. “They’re in love, and it’s not their fault that they’re causing a paradox.”
Reese sighed. “Love and fate don’t always work together very well.” He squeezed Elegy’s hand. “I can help. I can move around freely outside the praxidikai.”
The whole thing made me upset. It made me even more upset now that Elegy and Reese got to be together. It wasn’t fair. They were breaking the rules, but they wouldn’t break the rules for other people. Then I had a thought. “Wait. Elegy, you remember how you explained to me that a paradox only happens right when the first thing changes. Like, when you saved Tesla’s life, because it happened in the bar, outside of time, it didn’t cause a paradox. What if we put them inside the bar? Wouldn’t that stop the paradox?”
Elegy shook her head. “No, not in this case. See, the paradox is happening at the point when Jimmy is born. It’s not happening here in Woodstock, because time is too screwy here.”
They really couldn’t be together. It wasn’t fair. I sighed.
Elegy squeezed her eyes shut again. “Okay, hang on. I’m going to move the bar. I think I’m going to get the right place. It’s pretty early in her thread.”
Everything in the bar started vibrating. Barstools fell over, glasses broke. We clutched our chairs for dear life. Abruptly, the bar stopped moving.
Reese righted himself. “Kind of a bumpy ride.”
Elegy shrugged. “That’s the weirdness of Woodstock for you.” She stood up. “Okay, she’s right outside the bar. He’s getting ready to walk over to her. All you have to do is distract her until he walks by.”
Reese nodded. “She’s got blonde hair, right?”
“Back in a jiff,” he said. He strolled out of the bar.
Elegy and I started righting barstools and picking up broken glass.
“How do you handle it?” I asked. “How do you deal with the fact that the way that fate is written, it’s completely messed up and cruel? How do you deal with all the pain? All the injustice?”
Elegy looked up at me with a piece of broken glass in her hand. “I drink a lot.”
The door to the bar opened, and Reese came back in. He wound an arm around Elegy’s waist and kissed her on the cheek. “Mission accomplished.”
She turned in his arms and kissed him on the mouth. “Great.”
He pulled away. “But I’ve got some bad news. I saw Clothos’ praxidikai dock just as I was coming back in here. I’m pretty sure she’s picking me up for a job. I’ve got to go.”
Elegy’s face fell. “Of course you do.”
“I’ll come back to Woodstock, though. Everyone thinks I like the music. Or maybe the drugs. I don’t know. But the next time you get a chance, come find me.” He kissed her again. He was out the door before either of them could say goodbye.
Elegy stood still for several seconds. Then she took hold of the bar stool that she just sat back up right and hurled it against the ground. “Dammit.”
I wasn’t sure what to say.
As it turned out, I was saved from having to say anything. The TVs in the bar came back on, and Harmony’s face filled them. She was grinning. “You did it, sweetie! I don’t know how exactly you pulled it off. But let me tell you, I’m grateful.”
Harmony didn’t see it, but I did. Elegy dashed tears off her cheeks before turning up to see her friend, a big smile on her face. “Anything for you.”
“I’m sure the big guns will figure out some other horrible punishment for me at some point. But I figure I’ve got a good bit of time before they even realize that I don’t have a paradox to guard. I bet I can get in some fun before then.” Harmony laughed. “Thanks again, Elegy.”
“Sorry to cut this short,” said Harmony. “But that fun I was talking about? I figure I’d better get to it. I don’t want to waste time.”
“Don’t let me keep you,” said Elegy. “You deserve all the fun you can have. See you around.”
“Until next time.” The television switched off.
It was deadly silent in the bar. Elegy picked the bar stool back up. She heaved a deep sigh and then sat down on it.
“Elegy,” I said. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want him to leave either. We’ll see him again though. We will, won’t we?”
She smiled wryly. “Funniest thing about being trapped in the praxidikai. I have absolutely no idea what the future will bring.” She laughed a little. “You still want to see Jimi Hendrix?”
I’ve cancelled the Elegy Flynn series as it is not very popular. I could be convinced to write more stories if enough people wanted them, so if you’re put out, make some noise.