“You’ve been reading too many Sci-fi books Bob. Either that or your losing your marbles mate.”
Bob Jordan smiled through his heavy white beard. His deep-set weathered eyes, which gave away the history of his life in the outdoors, were grinning with a glistening sparkle. It was a lively sparkle that gave him instant popularity throughout the village. He thoughtfully replied, “I’m telling you Andy. It’s not just my crazy idea. It’s called relativity. Albert Einstein thought it up years ago, but it’s been proven without doubt since then.”
“Do you seriously expect me to believe that I could sit here get older while you were swanning around the universe getting younger? It just sounds bloody bonkers to me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t exactly say younger. I simply wouldn’t age as quickly as you. The nearer I would get to travelling at the speed of light, the less I would age compared to you. Honest Andy, it’s a fact. It was proven using atomic clocks back in the seventies. They flew planes round and round the world measuring the difference on these super accurate clocks compared to ones that stayed on the ground”
Andy began to go quiet. He had a lot of trust in his old mate of thirty years.
He knew that Bob was much brighter than he was, had known it since childhood. Despite this difference they had formed a tight bond, even to the point that they married on the same day in a double wedding ceremony. Their two wives were also close friends.
As he sipped on his third pint of Old Peculiar, he began to think about the possibility of time travel. He’d had children very late in life and knew that the likelihood of ever seeing his grandchildren grow up was small. That is, of course, if his lazy children ever had any.
Andy drifted into a day dream, pondering how much he would love to slow down his ageing process, such that he could live much longer. As his mind wandered Bob could see that his explanation of relativity had made its mark on Andy. He drove the discussion home with, “You see Andy, time is only relative to the person observing it. I would experience time at exactly the same rate as you do, but wouldn’t age as much as you because I would be travelling so fast.”
Andy heard his voice through the dim mist of his daydream. He promptly snapped back to reality with a very irritated, “Okay. Okay. I believe you. But it’s bloody hard to get my head around it, especially after a few beers.”
Bob was in full swing now and his enthusiasm for the topic pushed him to continue. “If we had the technology to travel at such high….”
“Alright, I get your drift. No need to keep going on. Now it’s your turn to get the beers in so why don’t you just zip over to the bar at the speed of light and fetch them cos I’m getting thirsty?”
They both grinned like cheeky little boys, totally comfortable with each other. This is why they hardly ever missed their Friday evening down the local pub together, while their wives went to yoga class, often followed by a meal or film at the local cinema. Friday had been their ‘free’ evening since before they were married.
When Bob came back with two more pints Andy was ready to taunt him.
“I guess that you’re suddenly so clever because of that new book by Professor Dawkins that you’ve had your head buried in for the last two weeks.”
Bob laughed. “You mean Hawking, not Dawkins. Stephen Hawking. Professor Dawkins is someone else. Anyway how do you know Professor Dawkins?”
“Aw, I dunno. It probably came up in one of the pub quizzes.”
That was then the end of the conversation about relativity. Andy quietly mulled over this ageing concept, while Bob was distracted by a long legged newcomer to the pub.
Soon afterwards they were swallowing the last drop of beer, as last orders were called. Bob, on seeing his pal a little subdued, guessed rightly that Andy was still thinking about his age and own mortality. At fifty five they were both well aware of their shortening lifespan. Mainly as a gesture and to help snap him out of it and cheer him up Bob asked, “Are you having another?” He was standing to go to the bar again as he spoke.
“No thanks, if you don’t mind. To be honest I feel a bit knackered and need to get my head down.”
“No problem. I wanted to try to finish that book tonight anyway. It’s bloody interesting.”
They left the pub and strolled up the road together, both still in deep concentration. Stopping outside Andy’s home to say goodnight, they could see that the girls were not yet home. This didn’t matter as five minutes later Andy was fast asleep on the couch.
Jenny and Emma, after their yoga class, went to see the new film ‘Lincoln’ that they had been promising themselves for a few weeks. On leaving the cinema, while it was such a lovely evening, they decided to sit outside the wine bar and have a couple of glasses before walking back home. Consequently it was extremely late when they finally arrived home.
Jenny came in quietly so as not to wake Andy. She could hear him gently snoring on the couch, so went quietly up the stairs to the bathroom.
After cleaning off her make-up she went straight to bed, expecting Andy to join her as soon as he got up for a pee, which was his usual routine. Despite the violent film, the yoga and wine had relaxed Jenny after a hard week in the shop where she worked, such that she went straight off to sleep.
A few hours later she woke with a start. She looked at the clock to see that it was nearly three in the morning. She tutted as she climbed out of the bed, on seeing that Andy was still not there. Her throat was parched. She thought that her thirst was probably due to the wine and decided to fetch some water from the fridge.
She crept down the stairs, again trying not to wake Andy. As she moved across the lounge towards the kitchen Andy shouted out in his sleep. He immediately woke up, groped for the switch and turned on the light.
“Whatever’s the matter,” asked Jenny, full of concern for her husband.
“Oh, hi. Sorry, did I wake you? I guess I was just dreaming,” replied Andy, rubbing his head vigorously with his hands, trying to wake himself up properly.
Without looking up from the floor, sitting on the edge of the couch, he was trying hard to shake away the horrible dream.
“You know what Jenny. That stupid bugger of a mate of mine was talking non-stop about travelling through space and not getting any older. He went on and on about it so much, I guess I must have dreamt that I was whizzing through space. It was like a dark void and I thought that I would never return to see you and the kids again.”
As he spoke he looked up and saw Jenny, who was smiling at him lovingly, but had momentarily forgotten that she didn’t have her teeth in. She always kept them in the bed-side table in a glass, taking them out after the lights were off. She wanted Andy never to see her without them. Although she was still a very attractive woman of fifty, without her teeth she saw herself as ugly and at least twenty years older.
The look of horror on Andy’s face forced them both to freeze for some seconds, before he screamed, “My God, I wasn’t dreaming.”
He ran out of the front door and down the road towards Bob’s house.
All Jenny could hear, fading with the distance was, “I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him!”