The Immortal and the Traveler

“Do you remember when we first met?” she asked, pouring the last of the last bottle.

I smiled. “I was eighteen. Physics class on the Ohio State campus.”

“Yes? Tell me what you first thought.” Her dark eyes seemed to swallow all of my peripheral vision like an entire night full of stars on the Mediterranean, centuries before I was born.

“I was stunned. You were so beautiful and so smart. You seemed to know your way about the world in every way. How nature worked. How people worked. Like you were ageless.”

“You guessed me from the start!” She laughed.

We had fallen in love and learned about each other. Loving an immortal turned out to have some complications. For her, how to keep it fresh? She had been alive for more than two millenia and seen it all. For me, how to not die? Turns out a time machine does not make a mortal live any longer.

She had a plan. A plan given to her by a strange oracle, far in her past. We had no idea of the origin of this plan, but we knew it would work.

After a pause, she asked, “Tell me, where is this Ohio State?”

I described to her a country that would be discovered a thousand years in her future and a culture that could not possibly make sense in any context of this age. How we studied in the library together and forged this strange bond while working on temporal research. A young physics prodigy and an immortal of ageless wisdom.

“So,” I asked her, “do you remember when we first met?”

“Of course!” she replied, a great mischief in her eyes. “The great steps of the city of Parsa!”

Her eyes grew distant. “I was eighteen. A thousand years ago, I had no idea I would live so long. It is still so fresh in my mind.”

“I guess I was persuasive. Or will be!”

“Oh, I was so rebellious! To be seduced by a strange foreign man!”

She told me of her unbridled passions, her indignant family and flights in the darkness. Strange stories of living for ever and taming time as a ship tames the waves.

We had been living here in Cyprus for a year. We dated each other one year at a stretch, together in the most interesting places on earth, at our whim. Our year here had drawn to a close and it was time to move on. There was no packing to be done. The time machine would move only itself and my naked body.

“Where will I find you?” I asked her. This always filled me with dread, but of course she was certain she would find me.

“Alexandria. At the library.” That mischievous grin. Her and libraries. “Take one month to get there, and then go back exactly 100 years. Meet me on the day of Mercuralia.”

I just drank in her beauty for a moment. It would be hard to be away from her for more than a month. I hoped that she would remember me after a hundred years. But of course I already knew she would – for me, that year-long date was last year. And in due course she asked, “Where shall I find you?”

“Constantinople. One hundred years from now.”

Her eyes fell. It was hard for her. It broke my heart but part of me was reassured that her love endured. I sometimes wondered if she took lovers in the long intervals, but I as long as we came back to each other, I never thought about it too hard. We kissed passionately one final time on the island. But before we parted, she stopped me.

“When you go back to Alexandria. When you arrive in the past. Find a sword, first thing. Even before you find clothes.”

She looked worried. I must have looked bewildered.

“When we met – when we meet – in the library, you told me to remind you.” She held me a moment longer.

“It will be alright,” she added. “Whatever it was, you were unharmed. But you wanted me to tell you, you will need that sword.”

We parted. She would live out the next hundred years to meet a slightly younger me in Constantinople. And I would travel to Alexandria, then hop backwards in time to meet an ageless her.

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