I shut my eyes tight as a fresh new wave of bile bubbles up. Should have taken those motion sickness pills. I land with a disoriented thud and immediately look around hoping no one has seen me fall ungraciously, out of nowhere.
This place is dark, not literally. It must be around 10 in the morning, but the city is as quiet as a cemetery at night. It sucks the air out of me. This seems like a place where where happiness comes to die. The air hangs thick, as if the sky was filled with viscous tar. I see barbed wire everywhere. The staccato clomping of combat boots is probably the only heartbeat this place has.
How could this place be sacred to someone, I wonder. But this is where Eliza’s great great grandparents had first met. Love is like a weed blossoming in the most unexpected places. Eliza was fascinated by genealogy and had carefully traced her family tree back to André Jacob and Iréne Moscovitz, the people for whom I have travelled this far in time.
A few months earlier, the bell above the creaky front door of Madame Ripple’s Timepieces had tinkled and a gust of icy wind blew in with Eliza’s entrance. Her bulky mink coat declared her sound financial status. Probably a vintage clock aficionado. But she didn’t even glance at the clocks. She came straight to me
“Are you Kaira Ripple? Petra sent me. I have a special project for you”.
Special projects are what I do behind the facade of my vintage clock shop. Nothing illegal, but not something I could advertise. My father had taught me to travel through time using grandfather clocks in the shop. I was also born with a gift.
I have the ability to pour parts of my memory into things. Into anything really, a stone, a sheet of paper, a dandelion, just about anything. I call it a ‘timepiece’. And when I give someone this timepiece, they can see and experience the memory too. People pay me to bring back timepieces of a place and time that’s sacred to them.
“Kaira, this is extremely important to me”, Eliza had said. “I’ve heard really great things about you. I’ll be indebted to you if you do this. Name your price, but do this for me, please!”.
“But Eliza, it’s too far back. From 2152 to 1945! That’s more than 200 years! ”
“But you’ll try, yes? I’ll recommend you to my friends. Just bring me back this timepiece and I’ll pay you as much as you ask.”
Truth is, I really needed Eliza’s business. Very few people were interested in buying antique clocks in this day and age. I was in bad financial shape.
“I don’t know, Eliza. I’ll have to think about it and see if it is even possible to travel so far back.”
“Take your time, I’m in no rush. If you decide to do it, call me.” She tapped on the green and blue business card on the table.
I wasn’t sure then, but little did I know that this project would infuse a sense of purpose back into my life. Every day after the shop closed, I feverishly worked on creating a wormhole inside the rusty old grandfather clock from the 1940’s. I worked on what I would need once I landed there.
Sleeping and eating seemed like unnecessary chores. The gears kept grinding, the pendulum swung and now, I’m somewhere I had never thought I’d be, even in my wildest dreams.
I am outside a German concentration camp in early 1945. I have to keep my wits about me. One slip and I could create a ripple so big that it could alter the face of history. I wipe my clammy palms on my German Red Cross Nurse uniform and feigning courage, walk towards the Schutzstaffel officer behind the creepers of barbed wire.