The Time Traveler’s Lament | 6

C. Louise Williams
3 min readAug 11, 2021

Our sense of the future is so perfectly strange, is it not? I think now on the timeline I had once believed my life should inevitably follow, an itinerary my child self had haphazardly constructed from the milestones of those around me.

My mother is my most influential figure in this regard. The ages at which she had become a wife, a homeowner, a mother, all sat in my once uncluttered mind as pivotal benchmarks to which I should not only aspire — but to which I was obligated by my own sense of the passing of time to satisfy.

And now here I am at 28, the age of new motherhood for her — in my mind, for me — and I am still maiden yet.

I talk to the eggs in my ovaries sometimes, dear reader, eager to let the seeds not yet sown know that I hear their sleepy rumbles of almost life dwelling inside me, that I once wept bitterly knowing — realizing I was not ready in any capacity to meet them.

And what has this desire to be a mother to do with my terrible predilection for time travel? Simple — it is only through my exploration of the ancient and the future not yet to manifest, not yet to have been codified that is, that I have come to understand — I am only just beginning to grasp the concept of adulthood.

I look around my room, dirty laundry piled carelessly on the floor, curtains drawn to blot out the slowly encroaching daylight. My cat is curled up somewhere on the closet floor. The trash needs to be taken out.

I haven’t eaten much at all and I’ve only slept a few hours. The chirping of the crickets has haunted me tonight, and yet I was not present, not really. I seldom am after sundown.

Instead I lay watchful on the grounds of what would become Lake Lanier — once a thriving black-owned town known as Oscarville — observing as they drowned yet another facet of my people’s beautiful and troubled history under the weight of their hubristic guilt and called it natural splendor.

In the next moment I am present for the sentencing of Yeshua to be crucified, wondering that the crowds of people would so eagerly curse their own bloodlines to suffer for their guilt at condemning an innocent man. I wondered — as I watched — if the woman whose lies condemned Emmett Till still does the same.

Then suddenly I am nearly present myself — nearly but not quite — wondering at the fact that I once wished to bear the children of a man who told me my body would only be fit to please him with plastic and broken bones inserted throughout.

Imagine him — a white man — telling a black woman her beauty is not enough to satisfy even as he tells her to aspire to a laughable imitation of her own immaculate form.

Imagine him admitting he prefers the con to the Queen because he feels less guilty breaking what he already deems worthless.

Imagine her — having lived centuries in her skin under extreme duress at the hands of his sociopathic kin, having in her current 28-year-old memory not seen nor felt nor tasted love like what he once did give — accepting his blasphemy as but idle chatter because she thought love meant self-sacrifice and humility in the face of —

I don’t know the end of that sentence. My heart hurts when I stay too long in that recent past.

What is love in a time of endless war?

What is love, between immortal enemies?

He was a time traveler too, you know. But he never did see like I could see. All there was for him, was serenity on the face of the still waters.

All — for me — the unmarked graves that lay beneath.

I — I have my work before me, my friend. If only time were so kind to us as it is patient.