Monday, March 25, 2013

Chris and Charlotte Versus the World: Epilogue

Writing about time travel is hard.

(2:51) Chris and Charlotte Versus the World: Epilogue

On Thursday, April 5th, on a day of remembrance, the Wong family came back to the Benches.
They parked their cars and trucks, borrowed from their cousins, the Dawsons, on the First Bench, and Jenny Wong and Nita Guzman paced the entire First Bench, walking through the green grass of spring and through the wildflowers, kicking noxious brambles of Russian knotweed as they went, talking about their wedding plans. Chris and Charlotte, meanwhile, walked at the head of the family on the old road up to the Second Bench, carrying bouquets of flowers, with a rake over Chris’s shoulder and a brush hook strapped at his side. Even though it was a bright and sunny day in the Okanagan, Chris carried a long, blue golf umbrella, and Charlotte a similar one in pearly white. You could never be too careful. The cousins and their parents laughed and joked as they climbed.
All too soon, the road levelled out, and they were at the Second Bench. A ceremonial arch stretched over the road, weathered and looking as wise as old timber could be, even though it was new since Chris had last been here to visit his grandfather’s grave, back in April of 1975. Chris gestured, and Charlotte walked through the gate, going to a pond, filled by a stream that welled out of the mountainside. She dipped her hands, and washed them, and whispered under her breath, “I’m so sorry, Aunt Yili.”
Chris took his sister by the shoulders, and she softened against his side. Then he dipped his hands, too. Their aunt and uncle, and their cousins, May, Jason and Amy, waited by the side of the road. After a moment, Chris could hear Jenny and Nita talking as they came up the road behind them. He returned to stand beside his uncle, who led them to the far end of the Second Bench, which was much smaller than the first. Here, stones marked the grave of “Pioneer” Wong, his wife, and her parents. “One hundred and seventy years in America,” Henry Wong said, as he put a bouquet down on his great-grandfather’s grave. “That’s a long time.” The graves had already been swept clean, and new bouquets lay against the stones. Henry and David Wong, still cursed never to be in the same place as their parents at the same time, had been there earlier in the morning.
Charlotte tugged on her brother’s arm, and whispered, “Look,” pointing, but Chris had already seen it. Two tiers down lay the graves of “Pioneer’s” grandchildren, Elizabeth (Yili) and David. That much he remembered, but, next to them, was another grave, one he didn’t remember. Chris brushed the old stone of the memorial so that he could read the characters on it, even though the English translation was right below. “Wong Kwan Le,” they read. 1912—1975; 1984--?
“Dad,” Chris whispered. “Is his body really here?”
“Yes,” Auntie Ma said. “Don’t ask me how, because I don’t know. Time travel.”
She laughed, and then said, “Honestly, Chris. There’s no grand plan here. A good scheme is when people never even think to ask such questions until it’s too late. Now you’d better tend to your Father’s grave, or we’ll be late for lunch at the Golden Dynasty. Remember, all the guests are waiting for us.”  
“We should move Mom’s grave up here from the churchyard,” Charlotte whispered, as Chris began to rake struggling weeds off the grave mound.
“But all the Dawsons are buried in Saint Elizabeth’s churchyard,” Chris objected.
“And we’ll be buried here someday. Don’t you think that she’d want to be with us? All the other women who married Wongs before her are here. Mary Croghan, Princess Amei. Look at Nita, down at the gate. I guess she will, be too, and Jason’s girlfriend, if they’re still together.”
“Brad’s there, too. Are you planning to bury the guys, here, too?”
“Seems only fair,” Charlotte said, “equality and all that.”
“Will that be part of the test for your boyfriend?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend!”
“You know that Auntie Ma probably has one picked out for you, don’t you?”
Charlotte shrugged. “As long as he’s hot. And I don’t have to time travel to meet him. I’ve had it up to here with ‘I can’t tell you that because it hasn’t happened to you, yet.’”
“No time travel, hunh. You sure are picky. Alternate dimensions?”
“Lythrum’s okay, but no alternate history. It just makes me want to punch Istvatha V’han in the face too much. What’s done is done. Move on.”
“Why not?”  
Then the Wongs walked out and down onto the road in the clear bright daylight, into the spring day’s promise. It was time for the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment