Edith

Edith

A Story by Dan L. B.
"

Time calls...

"

Edith


 I crawled into bed around 2:30pm. The noises of the foreign city around me crowded my ears and pushed the thought of sleep from my mind. The constant cars, the howling of the metro below, the whispers and shouts in French, the smells of the streets and vendors flooded my senses. When exhaustion finally set in, the time was 2:50pm. My eyes suddenly closed. 


Vibrations. I couldn't move. I was paralyzed. The sharp humming in my ears stung my head as I laid in bed, unable to feel the world around me, a weight crushing my chest. Breathing was nearly impossible but when I could manage to suck in the air was hot and sour. I could see a bright light through the skin of my eyelids, but they seemed to be sealed shut. The humming suddenly stopped and I could feel my body floating upwards. Then, without warning, the light turned into blackness and my body was slammed against the ground. I could feel my body crack and groan with the impact. My eyes flew open and I was staring at cobble stone in the moonlight of a Parisian night. Boxes of trash polluted the scents next to me and grime and filthy water littered the ground. I managed to stand. I was between to buildings in an alleyway. I couldn't make out the street or find anything of familiarity. I could hear voices float toward me through the fog and smog that sat in the air. Faint street lights emitted their auras in the night as I walked toward the street. Slowly, my feet clobbering over the loose stones, I hung to the wall as I trudged onto the sidewalk. I was in Paris still, but something was off. Antique cars lined the road, the road lacked lines, no neon lights polluted the scenery, no radios blasted their noise into the night, all was silent except for the occasional siren and burst of conversation. Was I kidnapped? Is this a prank? Have I been thrown into some sort of neighborhood for captured slaves? My breath became short as I tried to make sense of the head spinning reality before me. A pigeon flew above me in the white-black fog of the Parisian night. I had to get back home. 


I began to walk on the sidewalk. The walk turned into a hobble, then into a jog, and then into a run. Unbalanced, exhausted and frightened, I ran down the sidewalk looking for answers in the dead of night. Something fluttered across the street in front of me. A newspaper. I stared at it, but did not notice the lamp post before me. I slammed into it, my nose crushed, and flew backward meeting the concrete for the second time that night. When my eyes refocused I notice the paper's headline. On the concrete, sideways, I read;


L'Ítalie a déclaré la guerre à la France et à l'Angleterre


Italy has declared war on France and England. I read the date on the top left hand corner of the front page;


Mardi 11 Juin 1940


It was Tuesday, June 11, 1940. At least that was what the paper said. This could easily be a reprint for historical purposes. Or maybe someone left their antique newspaper drawer open on the same street lined with antique cars. Nothing here added up to any rational explanation. I stood, blood pouring from my nose onto my white shirt, my navy blue pajama bottoms and my bare feet. I continued forth, hoping to find answers.


The loud music pouring onto the street from the brightly lit, warm bar beckoned me to go inside. I could hear a voice singing and many inebriated voices laughing within. As I approached the door, a man in a vest and combed black hair leaning against the door smoking glared at me.

"Dis! Çava?" He must have noticed my blood. "Dis! Garçon! Tu as bien?" I must have looked like hell. He pushed himself off of the wall, walking through his smoke. He approached me, studying me like a sick dog. "Garçon, tu as l'air mal... trés mal..." I spit some blood out of my mouth.

"Where am I...?"

"Non, non. Je ne parle pas anglais... tu es américain?" Mustering my French was difficult.

"No... non, je parle français... tu... je vais au club?"

"Tu! Non, non, non... tu ne vas pas... tu as l'air comme le merde..."

"Excusez-moi..." I pushed past him and through the doors as he screamed,

"Dis! Tu ne vas pas! Tu ne vas pas!" I ignored him as I stepped into the warmth of the bar. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, ornate and flickering with shine. Round tables filled the floor draped with white table clothes topped with fine china and waxy candles. Smoke hovered throughout the room, filled with the chatter and smiles of the customers. The bar in the front was splattered with drunken men who jeered and laughed at the bloody mess that walked inside. 

"Eh! Garçon! Tu lutte?" The men around the jeerer burst into laughter. I walked passed them, trying to find someone who could tell me something. Eyes took me to the stage that rose above the diners. A woman, tall and elegant, stood in front of the red curtains that were draped across the floor. In a sparkling red dress and matching gloves, she sung into a boxy microphone  in front of the spectators. She sung a familiar song that solidified all my fears;


Non, regrette rien

Non, je ne regrette rien...


Edith Piaf. She stood before me on a stage, singing in the era of World War II. I didn't panic, for I seemed to expect this. I merely stood, listening to her sing a song that would forever be imprinted on an era of violence and death. It amazed me to actually be standing before a figure of such historical relevance knowing that, in my time, this woman no longer is. 


She finished her song, and the crowd cheered, sending her off the stage. Despite my amazement, I had to gather my thoughts and clean my messy self. I needed to find I restroom. I walked toward the back of the club, finding a thin little hallway. I picked the first door I came to and shut it behind me quickly. I looked up, and where I expected to see a mirror I saw          Edith Piaf, still in her garb, wiping away her makeup.

"Qu est-ce que tu et faire ici? Vas! Vas!" Flustered, she tried to shoo me away, but the last thing I wanted to do was to go back into the bar and be terrorized by the drunkards.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Just please, help me find a restroom! Help me, please!"

"What you do here? Do you not read! Go back out! Get away!"

"I apologize, please, can you give some napkins, paper towels?"

"No, it outside! Why are you bloody?"

"I... I got in a fight." Why not?

"You got in fight? Like boxing?" She seemed intrigued.

"No... I was mugged." They more dramatic, the better. At least I wasn't getting kicked out.

"You do not speak French?"

"I do, but not well."

"Here." She handed me a towel, which I used to wipe the blood off of my face and clothes, but some of it had dried.

"Why you in France in time of war? Do you not read paper?" I wasn't in 2014 anymore... 

"I... I don't know."

"You don't know? How you not know?"

"I mean... well... it's quite strange really..."

"What do you mean, strange?"

"Well... I was trying to sleep when..." BANG! I was thrown into the wall behind me. Edith screamed and dust and debris showered from the air. The coolness of the room was replaced by a sour heat that seared my skin. I wiped away the dust from my eyes and found that Edith had been tossed as well. She was on her hands and knees, shouting and crying.

"Non! Quel est ce, ce qui se passe? L'attaque!" As she shrieked, I looked round the room. It was gone. The wall that had once been behind Edith was now a street of Paris. More explosion shook the building and the plaster of the ceiling began to crumble. I could make out planes through the smoke as they dove and rose, machine guns blazing, bomb bay doors agape. Explosion after explosion left the streets in pieces. People ran in every directions, shouting and screaming and bleeding. 


I knew that the building would soon collapse. I got up, dizzy from the impact, and grabbed Edith by her arm. She shrieked and pulled, but we had to flee into the streets. I dragged her through the opening into the chaos. Another bomb struck the club, smashing it to bits. We crouched and ran as pieces of plaster and cement rained down upon us. As we ran, I realized that I had no idea where to go. There was no escape, for the war surrounded all of us.

"Where do we go?"

"This way!" She pulled me aside into a small, rustic shack among the shops on the street. We stepped over the body of a man that had been blown into two halves. She shoved the door open and ran among shelves and benches into the back of the shop. She opened a small door that revealed a set of stairs that lead down, down, down, into never ending darkness. As the bombing failed to cease outside, we had no other option. We descended into the abyss, into the catacombs. 

We collapsed on the cold, uneven and broken stone floor of the catacombs. I could sense Edith next to me, gasping and wheezing as the dust penetrating her lungs. The dust wasn't doing me any justice either. Luckily, the catacombs were equipped with small electric lights on the ceiling, but they flickered with every distant explosion. I hoisted myself onto one knee, breathing deeply. "Are you alright?" Edith remained on her stomach.

"Oui, I'm good." She became wheezy again and then was thrown into a fit of coughing. I stood and finally realized the atmosphere. This place was chilling. The ceiling, only six feet tall, brushed my head. Its walls were not even a full wing span apart. This place was cramped, cold, and its walls were made with dark, tan stone of great age. It was unnatural. Edith stood, brushing the tiny pebbles and dirt off of her red dress. Her gloves, and her entire being, had gone from being shockingly elegant to war torn and filthy. She then looked at me, but without fear, without question, but with purpose and intensity.

"Madam Piaf... are you alright?"

"I'm glad that we made it down here alive." Her English, unlike before, was flawless.

"I am too..."

"We can now get started."

"What? Start what?"

"Your name is Daniel Lee Barren. You are sixteen years old. You were born on November 28, 1997..." She stared straight into my eyes as she said this.

"What... how... why are you telling me this?" She didn't stop.

"You live at 135 Walcreek Dr. West Gahanna, Ohio 43230 in the United States..."

"How do you know this...?"

"Your parents' names are Jana and John Barren and you have a sister named Sarah..."

"What...?"

"You have two pets; a cat named Rascal and a dog named Sugar..."

"Please, explain..."

"You are scared and startled because you traveled from the year 2014 to 1940." Silence.

"But..."

"You must be wondering how I know all of this."

"... yes."

"I owe you an explanation. I'll start with the basics; time travel is possible. It has always been possible. Once one discovers a method of time travel, he instates time travel into all of history. I am Edith Piaf. I live to the day that I die, then I travel back to this day, this morning, to meet you. I execute the same actions, say the same words, and live the same exact way repeatedly, for every moment repeats in the whirlpool of time. Once you live a moment, it never goes away. This is my ten thousand and fifty sixth time meeting you, Daniel."

"You can't be serious..."

"I am most definitely being serious. I know everything that happens to you every day, of every year, of every second..."

"No, you don't!"

"Just last week you went biking and fell off the trail in front of your aunt..."

"No!"

"Last month you stained your favorite tie on your grandfather's birthday..."

"Your sick!"

"Am I, Daniel?"

"Why did you bring me here?"

"Let me explain, please."

"Fine."

"As I said, once you live a moment, it never goes away, but moments can be changed. When man first discovered time travel, they did not understand the risks it entailed. They went back in time and lived on their own, as their own selves. One cannot do that, because they, the person at that moment from that time, did not exist in the selected time period. This changed everything. Every thing that is seen, heard, viewed, and experienced by a person effects the coarse of history. If you place a foreign object into a time period, it will destroy the natural order of events that have already occurred, changing the future, sometimes for the better but other times for the worse."

"So why am I here?" 

"Do you know Captain Rodger's?"

"No... no, why are you asking me this?"

"Your about to meet Captain Rodgers. As a matter of fact, your about to become him."

"Why, that's insane...!"

"No, Daniel, it is necessary. Just a month ago we noticed that an insect traveled with one of our scientists back to a point in time just three days before this one. This insect boarded one of the plane's participating in this attack." As she proclaimed these words, a large explosion shook the catacombs sending small rocks down upon us from the short ceiling. "The insect distracted one of the pilots, altering the coarse of the plane by only two feet, causing it to drop a bomb a foot from where it was supposed to land, killing Captain Rogers. Now, in the planned coarse of action Captain Rogers is supposed to be discovered in a pile of ruble, be sent home, and have four kids with his wife. Since he dies in this moment now, though, none of that will happen, affecting the millions of generations of people that even get a whiff of the prodigy of Captain Rodgers that now doesn't exist."

"So you want me to..."

"Yes. I need you to be discovered in the ruble and become Captain Rogers."

"But I'm..."

"A perfect match, carefully selected using your DNA and personality similarities."

"No! No, I need to get home! I need to live MY life!"

"You died in your sleep." Silence. My mouth was left gaping.

"I...," I tried to whisper, "I what?"

"Daniel, you are dead in your time. It was meant to happen that way."

"If I'm dead, then why am I here?"

"You are being recycled. We use the dead to patch the errors in time." I could not imagine how to react to this. I was sad about my death, but shocked that I was standing there, listening to what I was listening to. 

"What if I want to go home, or go back to my time, when I was alive?"

"It does no good returning to a past life. Besides, you have a purpose here." The information was overwhelming. I slumped against the wall, my hand over my mouth, gasping and tearing, trying to collect myself.

"But... but my life..."

"Daniel, your life is over now and Rodgers' still needs to be lived." 

I had but a single question.

"How can I live as this man if I know nothing about him?"

"You will learn. We have all the time in the world." 


At that moment, I left my life and began anew.



© 2015 Dan L. B.


Author's Note

Dan L. B.
There may be typos. Feel free to point them out.

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Added on August 20, 2015
Last Updated on August 21, 2015
Tags: Edith, France, Paris, time travel, science fiction

Author

Dan L. B.
Dan L. B.

Columbus , OH



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