I noticed the blazing orange sunset through the airport window first, and then I noticed the woman looking at the sunset through the glass. She was shapely and elegantly dressed, with stylish brunette hair which had just a pleasing hint of disarray. Maybe the woman felt my gaze on her back, because she turned her head to glance at me, before turning back to stare pointedly at the sunset. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought, and walked over to stand casually next to her.
Thats some sunset, isnt it? I said as my opening line. It is she replied without looking at me. I waited a moment so as not to appear too eager, before I asked Are you waiting to meet someone?
Yes, I am, she said, and turned to me and smiled. Her face knocked the wind out of my sails momentarily. She had a warm, personal glow about her, and there was a look on her face as if she had known me all of my life, a look like she was greeting an old friend. But her eyes
they were bone-shatteringly tired. Behind the warm smile, those eyes looked like they had seen too much. Her pupils seemed to be dark, bottomless pits, as black and deep as a starless night. I realised I was staring, and thought Id better say something. I blurted out Im meeting my brother. Hes
She cut me off with I know.
Hes not on the plane, she said, looking once more at the sky.
Do you know him? What do you mean hes not on the plane? I asked.
Sharon tripped on the stairs and fractured her ankle. Harrys taking her to the hospital.
Youre joking! Is she alright?
Yes, shell be fine. Her ankle will heal OK.
How do you know Harry? I asked.
She turned to me with those weary eyes again. Michael, I know everything.
Was she some kind of stalker? What did she mean by that? How did she know my name? I felt uneasy for a moment, but then curiosity overcame me.
What do you mean you know everything?
She lowered her voice. Michael, I know everything. I know everything thats happening, and everything that will happen. Everything, everywhere, all the time.
Great, I thought. The woman of my dreams is psychotic. I noticed her wince as I mentally queried her sanity.
Call your brother. she said. My names Kate Barron.
Harry. Ill see what he knows about this. I found Harrys name on my mobile phone and pressed the cal button. I stared at Kate while I waited for Harry to answer, giving her my best I will get to the bottom of this look. I also didnt want her to sneak away and disappear while I wasnt watching.
Harry! Whats happening? Hows Sharon?
Harrys voice in my ear replied Michael! Sharon fell on the stairs and her ankle looks really bad. How did you know? It only just happened. Im on the way to the hospital now.
I frowned. Harry, do you know a Kate Barron? A brunette?
Never heard of her. Michael, I gotta go. Were at the hospital. Sorry about the airport and all that I was going to call, but things got crazy
Dont mind about that Harry. Just call me later to let me know how Sharon is. I ended the call and turned to Kate with a puzzled look on my face.
I started I dont know how you know all this, or what youre talking about
and began thinking of a way to test her outlandish claim. Kate sighed, and said quietly I dont normally do party tricks, but
see that little boy over there
She nodded to her right. Hes going to come up to the window and press his nose on the glass. His Dad is going to tell him to get his face off the window and then lift him up onto his shoulders. Youre going to think of stopping the boy from touching the glass, just to prove me wrong, but then youre going to realise that you cant just grab a kid in the airport.
She lowered her voice with her gaze as the young boy ran up to the window and pressed his nose to the glass. I didnt want to believe what I was seeing, but I knew there was nothing I could do to derail this train, so I just watched dumbly. The boys father chided the lad gently and swung him up onto his shoulders, pointing out a plane in the evening sky. Was this all some kind of setup? It couldnt be
it was getting too elaborate. I turned to Kate with a questioning look.
Now you believe me, she said, and paused for a moment before continuing. I know everything thats happening now, and everything thats going to happen. I will know this right up until I die. After I die, my daughter is going to know everything. Yes, I do know when you are going to die, but I wont tell you. She answered all of my questions without me having to ask them.
Shes not born yet, said Kate. Im not even married yet, but I will be.
So you know when youre going to die. And when your husband is going to die. And your daughter
No, not my daughter. I dont know whats going to happen after I die. Only things up to my death.
. I stammered, momentarily lost for words, trying to find a logical answer. Why you?
It has to be someone, and it is me. Michael
She lowered her voice and looked deeply into my eyes. Michael
someone has to know everything that is happening and everything that will happen. If no one knows it
it wont happen. And that person, for the time being, is me. If you like, I am the memory of the future, she said cryptically.
I shook my head. I still wanted to deny that what Kate was saying could possibly be true.
But you know
you know when a bomb is going to explode in a city. Why dont you warn people? You can choose to warn someone, and change everything. What if that bomb didnt explode, and innocent people werent killed? What if someone survived and then found a cure for cancer? My mind was racing, and I knew I was babbling.
I dont know how things would be if they were different, answered Kate calmly. I wondered how often she had tried to explain this. I dont know how things would be if they werent how they are. I only know what actually is, and what actually will be. And I know that I wont warn anyone about things that are going to happen. Thats just the way it is. I know that I will decide to try and change the course of history, then realise that I cant, and that I then wont try. I know all of that.
Harrys plane had landed while we were talking. Of course there was no Harry in the stream of people arriving at the airport. No one seemed to meet up with Kate either. Wheres your visitor? I asked. Did they break their leg too? I could have kicked myself. I had a bad habit of making snide remarks when I didnt understand something, and it wasnt Kates fault that her story was so hard to fathom.
I wasnt waiting for anyone on the plane, said Kate.
I looked silently at Kate. She was simultaneously happy, sad and tired, all mixed together on the palette of her face. She was waiting for me to say something.
Why are you telling me all this? And why wont you tell me when Im going to die? I asked. I wasnt sure I really wanted to know when that would be, but the knowledge could come in handy, I suppose.
all I will tell you is this. Dont ever ask me about the future again. I know that I will put a flower on your grave every year on your birthday, for as long as I can.
I blinked. Do you mean
Her earlier words flashed through my memory: Im not even married yet, but I will be
I wasnt waiting for anyone on the plane
. I blinked again and swallowed.
Kate took my hand in hers, smiled and said I know.