Short Story Series: ‘Broken Bride’ part I

Based on the same named 5 track EP by the band Ludo.

Engineers don’t have time for love. That was the first lesson I learned in my introduction to mechanical engineering class, some time ago. I always knew what time it was, what with two or three watches on at any given time, several clocks on each wall in my dorm room and of course, I had the watch-calculator which were fashionable at the time. I used to think that I would never escape the 80s.

The first rule of engineering was also the first rule I learned to break. Her name was Roxy Maurcella Jones, or as I called her, baby. Her hair was auburn, skin fair and she had a freckle on the right side of her chin. A regular day, walking to class on campus, and then fate decided to pluck me out of my stationary life. The moment I first saw her time stood still. All of these equations, constants and even the speed of light, were irrelevant. It was as though we were created to meet that day and spend the rest of our lives together. That’s the long and short of it.

Amazing how opposites attract, something I didn’t think would apply in the real world with people and emotions. She was a goofy philosophy major, more concerned with where to find her next fix than what to fix next. Somehow she found my punctual OCD nature quite charming and I found her aloof free love personality intoxicating.

We were married June 26th, 1985 in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, six months after meeting. I was so nervous my parents nearly had to pry me to the altar, and she was so calm she barely remembered to dress herself. Until I knew Roxy, I don’t think I was ever really happy. Every moment I spent with her, I fell even deeper in love with her. The older she got the more weight she put on, but that was simply another reason for me to find her beautiful. Unfortunately, I was never the writer and my social anxiety usually led me to be terse or unaffectionate towards her. If she only knew how much I loved her, what lengths I would go just to see her smile, she would not believe it.

My alarms go off at 5:45 a.m. I look over to my wife, barely aware that my blaring alarms have created a chorus of rousing noise. With all deliberate delicacy, I leaned over and kissed her gently on her cheek and whispered into her ear, “I love you.” It’s always been true that I could be more honest and open with her when she was least conscious.

She tugs at the sheets and moans a little. As any good husband would do, I kissed her until she finally roused enough to sit up and speak something intelligible. Usually I would let her be, but this was a big day for me.

“Darling, why are you going into work today? It’s a Saturday, just stay here with me. We’ll have to make a grocery run anyway.”

I looked at her and tilted my head as though to say, ‘you never understand me!’

“Baby, I’d love to, but that ‘Steven Hawking’ nobody is being shipped into the office today to give us some lecture on quantum something. Apparently he’s a rising star in the science scene

“Oh, and that remindes me by the way,” I continued, “I’ll need to take the Honda today. I don’t want the red bomber pulling another, ‘oh no the engine decided to stop halfway through the trip.’ Thankfully, the grocery store isn’t as far as the office.”

My hurried feet carried me to the living room as I picked up the keys and noticed her socks she left lying around on the floor. I rushed out the door just as she shouted out, “Come back soon!”

I sit back in my chair and rub my temples. After the lecture, they made me stay for the rest of the workday.

The room was suddenly very cold. I get up to grab my coat. It was unusually cold for a May afternoon. As I look out the window, I thought that Roxy must be picking up the steaks now. I can already smell them cooking on the grill. It’s possible I drooled a bit, but I certainly won’t tell anyone.

My lust for steak was rudely interrupted by my telephone. Usually my secretary takes the calls on Saturdays. I could have sworn she was outside when I checked last.

A cracked door revealed that almost all of my fellow workers were outside staring in, and my secretary was in tears. They all looked in with such deep sympathy. I immediately knew something awful had happened. The phone was heavy in my hand; I had to use both hands to get the phone to my face.

“This is Jack Harrison.”

“Sir, this is deputy Brookes… I have some terrible news for you…”

It was as though someone had poured an entire bottle of Havoline down my throat. My mouth quivered and the phone fell out of my hands. My wife had just died. The brakes on the Ford failed and she’d gone off the hilly road, right into a stream. Flames, broken glass, and the most beautiful woman who ever walked the earth suspended forever in that red heap of junk; the seatbelt proving no more than a noose for her. I never even got to say goodbye.

The months afterward were a blur. I never cried before that day. Thankfully, my boss gave me a month of leave, thought I should take the time to clear my head. I spent my time at the library. I must have read every book twice.

I’d climb into bed every night and clutch an article of clothing, smell it. The only thing she left behind along with the many pictures she took. We used to decorate our walls with old prints. I got every photo copied hundreds of times over, and filled my walls. Every wall in the house was covered from floor to ceiling with what I had left of her. Perhaps I was going insane.

One night, I actually started praying. I fell to my work desk and started thrashing around, begging God for some sign. Fix everything or move on, I couldn’t keep going on like this. I threw the books I had not yet returned to the floor and started slamming on the table violently. Eventually, all that was left was splinters of my table and my bloodied hands. I went insane.

I shook my hands to the ground and fell to my knees, vision still blurry from the pain. All I could see was the book ahead of me, drenched in the blood I had just shed. My trembling and numb hands picked it up and I wiped the blood away with my shirt. An epiphany like no other was given to me. God had answered my prayer made in anger; thank you Lord, this is my salvation.

I got up, walked over to the phone and put the book back down. The Time Machine by HG Wells.

Fifteen years later, my entire fortune and every dime I could squeeze out of the bank or steal, and with the help of my partner James, I did it. A time machine of our own design, built from my very will to save my wife. James thought I was insane. Hell, I thought I was insane. It didn’t matter, all the equations added up,and this was going to work.

“Jack, I put my all into this. I’m still not sure how you convinced me to help you with this, but I did and here we are. For Christ’s sake though, please don’t honestly think this will work. You can’t possibly save her.”

I looked at him with every bit of strength that had ever existed in this world as I stepped into my machine. As I closed the door, I replied, “That doesn’t matter in the least. I have to try. Goodbye my friend, I will never be able to repay you.”

The machine sparked and all of a sudden I was no longer in 2005.

James gasped as the time machine vanished out of sight. He wiped the sweat from his brow and began to walk out of the garage. As he did, a screech tore through the night sky. Terrified, he looked back and even his eyes could not believe what he saw. The time machine tore a hole in space and from the gap in the universe came forth the undead.

“My God, what have I done? I have brought the apocalypse…”

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