Cool - A Short Story

Updated: 4 days ago










Time for me was linear, one chronological moment following another with no skips in between. For a hundred thousand years, I have roamed aimlessly through this earth, once so barren that you could have mistaken it for the moon if it hadn’t been for all the green. Humans had been nomads back then, hunter/gatherers until I taught them how to plant seed. That had been cheating, of course.

The gods hadn’t liked that.

Slowly, the cities began to erupt like volcanoes, rising up through the ground, spreading like lava. Then came civilization, and with it came the first problems in history. The rising lust for power, the creation of borders, and then those bloody monarchs with their need to own everything. I’d watched, half-amused, half-horrified at what had become of them.

Of us.

I was human too, and a lonely one. Moving from place to place, I traveled the world, never staying more than a decade in a single place. I did not age, ever unchanging. It was sometime in a tent with Genghis Khan that I first met her.

Sarah.

Flaming red hair with a fiery personality to match, she’d been captured and was seconds away from being ravished. I’d stepped out into the field, noting her clothes were otherworldly. She wore what the Englishmen wore. Something like trousers and a tunic, but in a material I did not recognize. Fascinated, I’d gone and, in rapid Mongolian, asked for her as a part of my war spoils. Miraculously, in one heated argument with Genghis Khan himself, she became mine.

“I won’t be here long,” she said when I’d taken her to my tent. “And I’ll bite you if you try anything with me.”

She was speaking in English, unaware that I understood every word.

“I will not harm you. You may go in the night when they sleep.”

Her eyes widened, and a moment later, a wide grin spread across her face.

“You’re a pretty cool guy, huh?”

I did not understand. It was warm in my tent, the fire pit crackling.

For many generations, I would not understand.

I met her again at the time of the Black Plague in England. I’d been carefully making my way around sick people on the street, fully aware that the gods were being cruel again, as they had been many times in the past. I passed her on the street, and this time, she had on clothes to fit the times. Her face had startled me—a face I hadn’t forgotten, not even nearly 300 years later.

“Madam,” I’d said, going after her. She’d turned around, and just like that, my heart had shattered. She was every bit as beautiful as the first time I had lain eyes on her.

“Hello,” she said, looking taken aback. “Have we met?”

I could see in her eyes that she was trying to place me.

“Once, many years ago, I saved a woman like you from… well, something horrible. You must be a descendant. The resemblance is uncanny.”

“Oh,” she said, her eyes widening. “I know you.”

This could not be. I was the only immortal that roamed this earth. This, I knew for sure.

“Come,” she said, taking my hand. “Let’s talk somewhere more private.”

I took her to my home in the heart of London. It wasn’t too grand, but I called it home. It was cozy enough for me, bookshelves lining the walls, filled with my trinkets that I’d collected over time. Pieces of history.

“What are you?” she asked, taking a seat on my settee in my parlor.

“I am an immortal man.”

“I didn’t know such beings existed.”

“What are you?” I asked her.

“A time traveler.”

“I didn’t know such beings existed either.”

She laughed. “In the future, everything is possible.”

I would not see her again until World War II. I’d been drafted into the military, an American at the time of the war. I met her as I was boarding the ship to go to Europe and fight the Germans. She was in the crowd, waving a handkerchief.

“You again,” she said, smiling brightly when I approached her.

“And you.”

“Always a pleasure—oh, what’s your name? I never asked.”

“I am Cassius.”

“Cassius,” she said, testing out my name on her tongue. “I’m Sarah.”

I went to war, wondering when I’d see her again. In the next sixty years, not a day went by that I did not think of her, of the flaming red hair that was burned into my mind. I looked for her face everywhere, but she could be anywhere in the world at any time in history. She could be traveling back and meeting other versions of myself. I wondered often how that worked, but I did not ask the gods, for I was sure that they would only laugh in my face.

“Cassius.”

It was 2005, and I was in Murree, Pakistan. The snow was drifting down, and the clouds were so close that I could almost touch them. It was a beautiful mountain with an ancient city on top. The bazaars were bustling with crowds of shoppers, and the sweet scent of pink Kashmiri chai filled my senses.

“Sarah,” I said, recognizing her voice. I turned around and found her standing there in a shalwar kameez and a scarf covering her hair.

“Nice aviators,” she commented, grinning. I flipped them up, resting them on top of my head to get a good look at her.

“Am I cool enough for you?” I asked her, remembering what she’d called me all those centuries ago in the tent.

“Most certainly,” she replied, laughing. She remembered too.

“How do you keep finding me?” I asked her.

She smiled. “I look for you, Cassius.”

“I look for you too.”

“Why don’t we spend the day together?”

We did, and at the end of it, she was gone.

Fifteen years later, I met her again, and this time, she was changed. Older, her face lined with a few wrinkles.

“I haven’t traveled in a while,” she said. We were in Tokyo, eating a few bowls of ramen and drinking saké. We were both a little drunk.

“You are still beautiful.”

She grinned. “Thanks,” she said, and then paused.

“What is it?”

“I’m married now,” she admitted. “And I don’t think I’ll be traveling anymore. I’ve settled down. I think it’s time I stop searching for you every year.”

Every year? She searched for me that often?

I understood, though. We were human, and humans needed companionship. She had found her companion.

“It’s not healthy,” she added. “I love you, though. I wanted you to know that.”

That took me by surprise. We barely knew each other.

Once she was gone, she was gone.

For a thousand years, I did not see her. And then time travel was invented, and I considered going back, considered looking for her in all those places she’d been.

But it was unhealthy. She’d been right about that.

Until that fateful day when there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and there stood Sarah.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, giving me that familiar wide grin.

I was confused.

“It was always you,” she said. “In the future. It was you that I married. It’s time we finally get to know each other, don’t you think? We can fall in love now.”

I stared at her, and then cracked a smile.

“Cool,” I said, and she burst into laughter.

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