I dropped Susan and Will at the Lisbon airport, then headed to Benfica to find the apartment before dinner to discuss translation courses at Universidade Nova next summer. After an hour of circling and waiting, I swooped down on a parking spot right in front of the building. The old elevator was a bit of a puzzle, but I finally figured out to close the gate and rose and rose to the seventh floor, out, right and fumbled the huge key in the lock, opened to the dark, groped for and found the master switch on the electrical panel, lights on, and entered the time machine.
The pipe on the shelf, likely lit last some decades before, had a fresh warm scent of tobacco. The furniture, neat and new in appearance, reminded me a little of my last visit to a safe house in the GDR. I felt her presence, saw the books and thought of the soft, strong hands that had held them and turned the pages. Through the hall, around the corner, around another and left, the little room, small bed and there I found her, that young doctor that I love, holding her infant son, the boy's face familiar with that knowing look.
Black and white the image, another near, color, the boy a little older, me thinking of his birthday the summer past, forty, little changed.
Books and books, closets, all clean, another room, a bed, neat and waiting to receive me after a long evening of plans and friendly talk of best practice and the students and the challenges of so much to teach, to learn, and so little time.
I didn't want to stay but tired, with a drive of hours home, so up I went again into that time machine and she was there, the air welcoming and warm, the bed and blankets covering the dreams and I heard her, pen scratching at the desk, studying for some qualification. And in the night her arm slipped softly around me in my sleep, my fingers brushed hers like the strings of a healing harp and I breathed deep in a reality familiar and distant in my dream.
Woke, felt her just departed, so I rose, dressed, ate a bit of chocolate, found the master switch of the time machine again and rode down and down, out and to the car in the dark through the streets, the bridge, tolls and long miles, hurtling through the dark in the Renault Tardis to home, where all those good dogs greeted as I passed by into the house where I felt her near, slipped quietly beside the sleeping form in the bed where her arm slipped softly around me, the tight curls of her hair in my nose as I breathed the air of content and drifted back in that time with the young doctor that I love.