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Present and Promise

A Mostly True Story

By Donald J. BinglePublished 2 months ago 5 min read
Present and Promise, Story and Photo by Donald J. Bingle

I wasn’t expecting anything. Yet, there it was. The unmistakable drone of the … well … drone dropping a package on the front stoop.

I hadn’t ordered anything recently and most of the Kickstarter projects I occasionally backed were, as usual, sending out nothing but email updates about why they were running months or years behind their projected delivery schedules.

I’d just finished a big project at work, so none of my partners or clients were likely to be sending me a pile of paperwork to read and review.

Quite frankly, I was planning to spend my Saturday doing nothing much than relax in the hot tub. It’s where I get all my best ideas for writing stories or developing a unified field theory.

Still, best to retrieve the package before the hot tub, just in case.

The package wasn’t big: a four-by-four-by-four-inch white box with my address on it, but no logo or return address on the label.

I opened it up to find a jewelry box—you know, the blue velvet clamshell lid type that you always see in commercials for engagement rings and diamond stud earrings. Not that I thought it was either of those. Happily married and I don’t have pierced ears, not that the fuddy-duddies at work would appreciate it if I wore earrings in any event.

I crumpled up the thin cardboard packaging and stuffed it into a pocket, then opened up the blue velvet box.

Inside was a cloisonné lapel pin with a logo and words in a circle around it that said “Time Travel Research Association.” A small, unsigned card was folded up inside the lid. I opened it to find that it read: “For your contributions to time travel.”

That was odd. I’m not a physicist or engineer. I’m an attorney and none of my clients were theoretical physics laboratories or Delorean dealerships or even watch companies. Oh, sure, I’d written a few stories in my spare time about time travel, but nothing, you know, serious. And my ruminations in the hot tub about creating a unified field theory were just idle theorizing.

I suppose I could have just set the odd gift aside and forgotten about it. Or, I could have gone online and done a bunch of research and tried to track down the sender.

Instead, I simply took the pin out and put it on the lapel of one of my suits that I wore for work.

Years passed.

Most of my friends and colleagues and clients never noticed the odd pin on my suit coat. Or, if they did, they didn’t say anything about it.

But, every so often, I would be at a deal closing or a cocktail party or a business seminar and someone would lean in and squint at the cloisonné lapel pin, eyebrows tilted inward and nose scrunched up.

“What’s that?” they’d say.

I would just shrug, look them straight in the eye, and say in my most earnest and serious voice. “It’s an award I received for my contributions to time travel.” And, then, I’d go on about my business or our conversation as if that was a completely normal and logical thing to say.

They never followed up with another comment or question. Not one single time.

And, as time marched unrelentingly forward in my life, I began to think of my anonymous award as more of a promise than a present. Think about it. This pin cost something to make and package and ship. Maybe not a lot, but more than a piece of direct marketing sent to masses of people.

Someone spent a fair bit more than parking meter change to create and send this to me. And no one ever followed up from the Time Travel Research Association to ask me for money toward their “cause” or sell me any books or videos or logoed t-shirts. More importantly, if time travel really is possible, the people who can do that could easily go back in time and thank those who helped make it a reality by giving them a little reward or token of encouragement.

The pin wasn’t just an oddity—a practical joke from the present or the future. It was a promise. I would make a contribution … no, contributions … to time travel somehow, someday. It was a promise that my existence mattered and that something great would come of it.

Until then, I was invincible. This strange present from the future guaranteed that I had a future.

Now I’m old—really old. More than a decade past retirement. I don’t mind. That’s not a bad thing, particularly if you have a paid-off mortgage, good health, and a modicum of interests, hobbies, and activities.

I still write stories. Some of them are in the science fiction genre. And, my ponderings in the hot tub about a unified field theory are making some theoretical progress. Sure, I’ve read too many obituaries for friends and colleagues who no longer have a future, whose contributions to this world have ended. Time isn’t always kind.

But, I was thanked for my contributions to time travel by an organization I’d never heard of and didn’t belong to.

I’ll really have to get around to making those contributions someday.

I hope you’ll understand why I’m not in a hurry.

fact or fictionfeaturefutureintellectliteraturesciencescience fictiontechtravel

About the Creator

Donald J. Bingle

Donald J. Bingle is the author of eight books and more than sixty shorter works in the thriller, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, steampunk, comedy, and memoir genres. More on Don can be found at www.donaldjbingle.com.

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  • James Egahi Justin2 months ago


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