Chapter one: Shadows and dust.
I had not seen Sharaya for months, possibly more. I missed her. But she wasn't the type of girl I could invite over, ever.
It was complicated.
She was my brother’s super geek calculus partner from college and his semi-professional ‘not-girlfriend’.
She was also a time traveler, he didn’t know that part about her and probably never would.
I am also talking about two completely different girls, sort of.
It was late August in Southern California so it was hot and dry. Which in the year 1984 was pretty typical for most days where we lived in Temecula.
The skies were blue but for the occasional waves of smog that rolled down from Orange County on their way to die in San Bernardino.
We had lived in this remote part of south west Riverside county since my dad moved us here 12 years back with the promise of a better life.
It just didn’t work out that way.
Some things just don’t.
Back then we were all waiting for the ice age to freeze the planet so we could go to Big Bear in June.
My high school computer teacher Mr. Bowyer told me it was good to have healthy goals and I liked to ski so what could possibly go wrong with some extra snow and the temperatures dropping 140 degrees centigrade for a few thousand years?
On this particular Saturday we are having the estate sale at my parents house.
It had been a rough few years for my brother and I but our Germanic background required us to be stoic and we didn’t really have any other family. So we made due and just moved on with life as best we could.
In case you wanted to know, our dad died in a car accident when I was 13 and our mom succumbed to cancer my freshmen year of high school.
Yes, I know, so far this story kind of sucks. Give it time, trust me.
Back then there were no police around and no child protective services to check up on us.
Which meant we lived in the house by ourselves and no one said or did anything as long as we didn’t break the law.
The only time I ever got pulled over was the boarder patrol because me, John, Gavin and Scott we’re driving in the rain with a broken headlight. The boarder patrol agent walked up to the car expecting something far different than a bunch of dumb white kids blasting Depeche Mode and drinking coors light. He did however make us throw the beers away.
We were the epitome of ‘latch key kids’ just without parents around.
It was a really different world than where I am now. That happens to be a story for another time.
Time being the operative word.
Fate does in fact have a sense of irony or perhaps humor and there was the really large insurance policy that paid off our parents house and the ugly brown Toyota Celica I was driving.
It also set me and my brother up for college. Which pretty much meant it set him up for college and I would likely do something really earth shattering with my vast knowledge of AppleSoft basic like hack into WOPR.
Anyway, I was sitting around on the front lawn wearing my red and white striped vans, 501s from Millers Outpost, my green Shah Safari shirt and listening to INXS on the ghetto blaster waiting for an appraiser to come look at some family heirlooms to put up for auction.
One man’s heirlooms is another man’s junk was my way of seeing it. But cash is cash and this was the trajectory of life for me now.
Long ago mom and dad had inherited a bunch of ancient furniture from our paternal grandparents that was bought in the 20s from Ms. Rosenstein’s garage sale in Cleveland.
I never actually figured out the real story. It didn’t matter because we were selling all the stuff and beginning our adult life or some other nonsense.
I wasn’t ever the responsible one, that had always been my brother. I think he was joining the Air Force or something to fly planes. My focus was on surviving, so getting into someone’s else’s world just wasn’t a priority.
I was day dreaming about dungeons and dragons stuff and thinking about the next adventure I would create when I see my brothers red and black AeroJet pull up on the street.
I was probably supposed to get up and look busy, but what could he do, kick me out of a house that was up for sale? So I just sat there going back to thinking about dragons eating paladins.
I can tell he gets out of the car and for some reason I hear both doors shut and I actually opened my eyes for a moment to see who was with him. I assumed it was Ray. Which was good because I could use the extra money by beating him shooting baskets.
Turns out I was wrong.
I almost fell out of the deck chair I was reclining in when I saw who he was actually with.
My brother starts up the driveway with her by his side. It was taking all of his energy to hold back a grin because he knew I saw her.
As they approach me I try to compose myself a little and blurt out to him, “What’s up pork boy, did you bring lunch?”
We were close like that.
Sharaya shakes her head at me with adds a slight eye roll, smiling and with a very pleasant voice she says “Hello Michael, how are you? Busy as usual I see.”
The sarcasm was a thing with me.
She had just a little hint of an Indian accent and it was a thing that you just couldn’t ignore.
Sharaya was a mix of Indian and Danish as I recall. Her mom was a some type of rocket scientist in Pasadena and her dad had worked for the government on some project that I didn’t understand that had to do with electricity and large coils out in Death Valley.
She was scary smart and even my brother had trouble keeping up with her.
I think she had just returned from Jalandhar on a family trip. I had thought she wasn’t going to make it back before the house sold.
I was holding back how excited I was, but not for the reasons you might think.
Just to make sure I played my part as ordained I replied back to her “Why is it you hang out with my brother, you’re hot and he is a glorified pizza delivery boy that will end up flying a bug smasher to Laughlin if he’s lucky?”
She didn’t reply this time but did give me the full head shake and stern look.
Truth be told they were good together. I think she knew by now he was off to Air Force camp for a few years and wouldn’t be back before she had probably made other decisions in life.
I didn’t get into those details.
When they were going over the items for sale and calculating the net revenue of the items up for auction I stole another long look at her in case I didn’t see her again.
Sharaya was probably five seven, long black hair, brown eyes and truly curves in all the right places. She had perfect light brown skin and a smile that could light a fire in the darkest of souls.
Honestly It was hard not to stare at her. She was always well dressed in something colorful that flowed like a gentle breeze. It was something that reminded her of India she once told me.
I kind of assumed she got that from her mom.
But the Sharaya walking by my brothers side wasn’t the same Sharaya as the one I knew.
And I mean that literally.
This is where it gets tricky.
At a minimum this was going to sound crazy.
But I could sense that the other Sharaya was going to arrive soon. And she was the one I was hoping to see. The only way to describe this was Sharaya was in fact two completely different girls that their path split and they existed in different time-lines. I still don’t really understand it. Had not not been for reading a lot of science fiction, none of this would have made sense.
My Sharaya was able to travel through time as she pleased and seeing the other one with my brother was foreshadowing of who I knew would arrive on the lightning when the moon was rising.
Coming up - Chapter Two: My Science Project