Trapped in a Loop

by Russ

‘Would you rather be able to travel back to any point in history but not change anything, or only travel back within the last hour and do anything you like?’

‘So, I could go to 1930s Germany and just watch it all happen again, or go back to the gym and ask that girl out a different way?’

‘Why does everyone automatically go to Hitler when time travel crops up? That man did a lot of things but he really cornered the market in time tourism.’

I said nothing.

‘And you can keep asking that girl out as many different ways as you like, she’s always going to say no.’

‘Fuck off.’

‘It’s just facts mate. You can’t get mad at me for facts,’ Em lifted her hands up to further protest her innocence. She was a dick. I loved her.

I’d loved Em since we’d bunked off orienteering at our high school activity week and rifled through the empty dorm cabins swapping all the boys’ undies into the girls’ dorm and vice versa. That was a fun day.

‘I suppose I could find out the actual truth about stuff that happened. If I took the first option,’ I mused.

‘Does the truth really have any value though?’ she asked as she lifted a spoonful of Greek-style yoghurt to her mouth.

‘Shut up.’

There was a pause while a little bird hopped along the pavement beside the cafe, trailing little birdy footprints of the dog shit it had landed in as it went.

‘How’s Steve?’ I asked. Em had been with Steve for about three years now. No marriage or kids yet, but I was constantly bracing for one of those catastrophes to be announced, despite Em’s protests that neither was on the cards.

‘He’s fine,’ she answered without emotion. ‘How’s Vick?’

Vick was my latest internet date. I’d seen her twice. She wasn’t Em.

‘Y’know...,’ I answered. Em looked at me over the top of her bowl as she licked the last of the cherry sauce from its rim. My heart deflated like a balloon.

‘We’re never going to get you settled, are we?’ she said, taking a sip of her coffee.

‘Like you and Steve?’ I shaded the bile a little, but it wasn’t hidden. Emma put her cup back on the table. Her mouth smiled, her eyes told me to fuck off.

‘I think I’d just get trapped in a loop,’ she said, changing the tone.


‘Time travel. I’d just end up travelling back twenty minutes and eating that dessert over and over again. Or, do you remember that sticky toffee pudding we had in London?! My god. Do you think you lose the calories when you travel back? Or would I just inflate until I’m spherical?’

I laughed, but I was too distracted to do it with the gusto she deserved.

‘I’d go back to that activity week at high school,’ I said without looking at her. ‘You remember when we skipped orienteering?’

‘That was a good day,’ she beamed, grabbing my hands across the table.