Here’s a little mind tease. Something of a few mental deep-knee bends. For those of you in a hurry, the story is only two-hundred words. For you dictaphobes, that’d be 200 words. True to habit, my afterthought is a mite verbose. Comparatively.
“I’ll take this, please. It’s a beauty.”
“Just one apple?”
“Apples don’t travel well.”
“You’re a traveler?”
“Travel a lot. An awful lot. When I hanker for an apple, I come back.”
“Understand. No place to keep them. I mean, when you’re on the road.”
“Not that so much.”
“Yes. Well. Can’t hardly charge you for one apple. Enjoy!”
“You said that before. Here, lemme pay – like for that little assortment there.”
“Aw. Not necessary. Wait. You’ve been here before?”
“How come I don’t remember you?”
“My last visit, you weren’t here.”
“But I’ve lived here all my life. Never left the farm. Forty years.”
“So, when this stand is open, I’m here. I’ve never missed a day.”
“Trust me. I’ve been here before.”
“I certainly don’t remember you. Got a pretty good memory. Faces especially.”
“Memory isn’t dependable.”
“Mine’s pretty good.”
“It’s all relative.”
“Time is relative. Elusive. Deceptive. Makes memory relative. Deceptive. Undependable.”
“You mean like forgetting? Imagining things that never were?”
“Sort of opposite.”
“Yeah? But I’m older than you. I saw you, I’d remember. When was it you were here?
“Six years hence.”
“Six years from now.”
“I travel time.”
Meant to bend your mind. A little. Deal is, the customer “last” visited six years in the future. In his last visit. Or his previous visit? Or his next visit? Or what? Okay, in his other visit. Maybe one of his other visits. Obviously, our traveler likes apples. Knows where to find good ones. Suspect he knows what years have been, will be, good years. For apples.
We’re expected to assume the time-traveler’s memory stays intact. The roadside vendor’s memory hasn’t experienced six years in the future, so can’t “remember” something that in his “present” never yet was. Is? Will be?
On the other hand, maybe worm-holing would distort a voyager’s memory. In which case, our traveler would find it impossible to realize he’d violated our concept of time. Or would he?
When our time traveler says the apple farmer “wasn’t here” on his (the traveler’s) last visit, he means at the time of the conversation we overhear, the vendor’s “memory” could not include the “other” visit, it not yet having taken place in the fabric of time. Or it has, but is beyond a non-traveler’s ability to “recall” from a specific point-in-time.
I must go lie down. I’m a little worn out over this. Makes me a little confused.
Then, many of you out there in WPland suspect/suspected/will suspect as much anyway. Didn’t/don’t/won’t you?