posted on: Thursday April 22, 2010
Dara Plath ’13 / Asst. Portfolio Editor
Crammington Square used to be an area in the city where all of the rich, well-to-do people would spend their time. One could find bankers in black or navy suits eating their lunch on benches, most likely sandwiches prepared by their wives or bought from the expensive deli down the street. Women wearing shiny heels and colorful scarves could also be found pushing baby carriages of pink or blue lace. Children, their faces dirty with mud, would chase each other around the ornately sculpted fountain. Every now and then, one of them would retrieve a penny from their parents and toss it into the shimmering water with a wish.It was in this exact location that Louis Sherwood appeared. Not out in the open where everyone could witness him materialize out of thin air, but behind a tree where the only creature present was a squirrel who quickly scampered away. He shook out his arms and legs and clasped and unclasped his fingers in an attempt to escape the tingling sensation that would overcome his body whenever he reappeared in a different place. Louis stepped out from behind the tree and took in his surroundings. The air was cool and felt good on his burning skin, another side effect of his travels. There was something else in the air, a heavy, salty smell which drifted slowly through his nose and made his mouth water: hotdogs. His stomach grumbled painfully and he tried to think back to the last time he ate something, or more appropriately, think forward. But now was not the time to muse upon such niceties as food, for he had a job to do.Lying on a bench next to him was an abandoned newspaper fluttering slightly in the breeze. Louis picked it up and searched for the date: March 23, 1952. He threw the paper back down, and from inside his faded brown trousers, he pulled out a small piece of paper. On it was a name scribbled in his scratchy handwriting: Brenda Stevens.The name had a certain ring to it. He could image seeing a name like that on some movie poster about a man and woman falling in love despite adverse circumstances. The woman would be beautiful with skin that seemed to glow with an ageless radiance. The man would be handsome with large dimples and maybe some dignified creases around his eyes. Perhaps Brenda Stevens would grow up to become an actress, or maybe not. It didn’t really matter to Louis what she decided to do with her life, because his main concern was saving it.At this point, you may be wondering exactly who Louis Sherwood is. To the people meandering along Crammington Square, Louis would seem like any ordinary man. There were no special nuances to distinguish him from the bankers eating their lunch, except of course that he had no lunch to eat. Louis had a serious manner to him, as if he knew too much about the world, and this knowledge weighed him down. I guess in a way, this is true.As you may have speculated from the beginning of this story, Louis was a time traveler. Employed by some mysterious benefactor, he was sent on trips to recover missing artifacts, learn long-forgotten secrets, and at times, to save certain people. Brenda Stevens was one of those people. Louis never asked questions about his assignments. The client paid him an inexhaustible sum of money for his troubles, and in all honesty, he didn’t really care. This indifferent nature stemmed from a childhood spent in foster homes and an early adult life spent in jail for shoplifting. However, this is all you need to know about Louis Sherwood for now, so I’ll get back to the story.Louis gazed out at the park stretching before him. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to sink behind the trees, casting the entire setting in a golden sheen. She would make herself visible to him. They always did. It was as if the universe, in its infinite wisdom, knew that he was looking for her. Just then, a young boy, probably around ten or twelve, darted past Louis with a white glove raised high above his head. He seemed to have stolen it from a girl standing on the opposite side of the fountain, her hands on her hips in an ostentatious display of annoyance. Brenda, you can’t get me! screamed the boy.Louis stared at the girl across from him, the one whose name he thought should belong to some movie star. She was beautiful, though not in the way Hollywood actresses were. Instead, she emitted an air of confidence which defined the contours of her face and gave her an almost exotic appearance; as if she belonged in the sacred pyramids of ancient Egypt, forever preserved in a halo of gold and turquoise.She seemed to be staring at the fountain as the water cascaded down the edges and into the rippling pool. However, as he moved a few steps closer, he noticed that she was actually staring at him, her eyebrows arched in a curious expression. Louis couldn’t shake the sudden feeling that overwhelmed him as he gazed back into her brown eyes. It was as if every nerve in his body was quivering in anticipation, though of what, he did not know. His heart started to speed up and every breath he took seemed deliberate and heavy, as if laced with a coat of sticky syrup.A wave of panic suddenly swept through him as Louis realized that his skin was taking on a gauzy appearance. He could almost feel himself being whisked away from the present, Brenda’s present. There wasn’t enough time. He couldn’t save her before he disappeared. Louis reached out his hand in an attempt at forewarning, but the girl only continued to stare back, transfixed by the strange event transpiring before her. The last thing Louis saw was the young boy running around the fountain, the white glove suspended above him like a fluttering dove.When Louis arrived back at his present, he was a changed man. He quit his job as a time traveler and slowly disappeared within the masses of the populace. I don’t think he left his employment out of guilt for not saving the girl’s life, nor do I believe he just became tired of his unique occupation. Instead, I think Louis was simply afraid—afraid of the reality that what he had felt that day in 1952 was nothing more than his body moving in time. He simply decided that he wanted to truly be a part of his present. In the end, don’t we all?