The last snow was falling on the dead trees when Michael left his house that morning. He smiled seeing Jane talking to the little boy who brought her the newspaper. He still didn’t know the boy’s name after having lived in this small suburb of Montreal for half a year.
Her laughter made him forget why he had moved to Canada, only for a short moment, but after all he had been through, it felt as if it was a whole life in itself. It had been an eternity since he felt this, a simple moment of happiness in which he did not think about the pain. The happiness made him sad. Enjoying himself, and if it was only for a second, would this not mean that he began to forget? He had sworn he would never and he never could. And yet, this instant sufficed to substantiate his fear that one day he would.
The psychiatrist had told him he must not have a bad conscience if he starts to enjoy his life again and enjoys himself. It is the natural course of things.
The memory came back to him. A flash. He was back at San Francisco. The city he wanted to leave behind.
He had been sitting at his desk, working on equations based on John Wheeler’s theory about the quantum foam. From time to time he would look out of the window and watch Brian play with the dog he had bought him the Christmas before. He had named him Littlefoot, after the young dinosaur in his favourite movie series “The Land Before Time.” The window of his office had been open so he had been able to hear Brian laughing and fooling around. Jane had been sitting on the bench, reading her favourite novel, “Villette.” How many times had she told him he absolutely had to read that novel, but he would always find a way around it. He had never been a Brontë fan, of neither sister.
He had just started the motor when he noticed he didn’t have his driver’s licence. He would be late for work again. It was half past seven already and it surely would take him at least a forty minutes to get to his office. The understanding of his boss was nearly exhausted and he couldn’t risk losing his new job after having needed four months to get one. I got to go, I have no time to get the license now, he thought and drove down the driveway. But then, in his hurry, he hit the dust-bin.
He had tears in his eyes. A nasty bang. The pain embraced him near to suffocation.
Jane’s scream set him free from his pain. He did not know where this sudden strength came from, but he jumped out of the car and ran towards her. She was lying on the floor, shivering. Her hand felt cold as ice and he had the impression of hearing her heart beat.
She didn’t stop screaming.
Michael felt paralyzed. He was moving between past and present. He had been blinking to hold back the tears, but in that way had only provoked more tears. It was even harder to distinguish past and present through this salted water of pain. His whole view was blurred. The world looked like as if it was painted in watercolor, but the colors were all washy.
He saw the blood all over her clothes. She was pressing Brian against her. It’s not real. This can’t be real.
The suppressed hate against the hit-and-run driver ate him up. Michael was helpless. Struggling against his own post-traumatic visions and Jane’s screaming only reinforced his feeling of being trapped between times. But in either time, Brian was dead.