PREVIOUSLY: Julie agreed to talk to Mary Clarke. Carrie had a condition for all the interactions.
PART 72b: THAT’S A WRAP
Mary sat on the couch rubbing her temples as Julie stood over her. Like Carrie, Julie had requested a closed session. And like Carrie, Julie had wasted little time in laying out the situation, backing up Clarke’s account of the time travel incident from last November. About her self-suicide.
The accounts matched perfectly – perhaps a little too perfectly? Because as much as she loved her brother, she had to allow for the possibility that discussion with his friends could have “filled in gaps”, consciously or not, in the eleven months since then.
“I’ll be frank,” Mary said at last. “If my brother hadn’t been so adamant about this talk, I would have thought it all to be a practical joke. As it is, I’m still sorely tempted to chalk everything you’ve said up to a mass hallucination. But okay – if you did truly travel in time, and DID come close to killing your parents… well, Julie, it’s a wonder that you can stand there and speak about it so calmly.”
“I don’t allow myself to dwell too much on the past,” Julie yielded. “Memory can be deceptive. Doc Golden taught me that.” She paused, then moved to sit on the couch next to Mary. “But I won’t say that my actions back then don’t haunt me. They do. That’s why I volunteered to go on more time trips with everyone. It’s also why I’m currently…” She stopped herself. “Why I allowed myself to be put into the position that I’m currently in.”
“You mean with respect to your parents?”
Julie shook her head. “No way. They’ve been a non-factor for close to a year now. And with Golden’s help, I’ve been dealing with the fact that my parents don’t love me, not to mention my little self-destructive impulses. Plus Jeeves is acting more and more like a father to me, and as long as he doesn’t outright demand custody, mom and dad are content to let sleeping dogs lie. They see it as better than a huge legal scandal. No, I meant the position with respect to my isolation.”
“Okay, so like my brother, I’ve missed the direct link. Why are you pulling away from everyone?”
Julie leaned back. “How much do you know about someone named Glen Oaks?”
Mary shrugged. “He’s the guy going out with Carrie, right?”
“He’s also from the future and he has crazy mental powers that allow him to alter the will of others.”
Again Mary found herself raking her hand back through her hair. She wondered why more psychiatrists didn’t go bald. “That’s a new one on me,” she admitted.
Julie stood up again. “See, this whole thing, it’s bigger than you, bigger than me, bigger than all of us. Clar– Phil, bless his heart, he thinks there can still be a simple answer to everything. This time, there isn’t. However… and you can tell him this if you like… I know it will all work out in the end.”
“How can you be sure?” Mary protested.
Julie looked back at her. “Because I received a letter from the future.”
It was right about then that Mary decided they were all crazy… herself included. “A letter. From the future.” Mary sighed, resting her head back on a couch pillow. She fought back the impulse to laugh out loud. “And it told you, what, that closing yourself off from people who care about you, like Phil, would ensure peace and prosperity in the world??”
“Not in so many words,” Julie replied. “But it’s the reason no one can know what I’m doing. Not Phil, not Carrie, not anybody.”
“Then no one can help you,” Mary stated flatly, professional distance be damned. She glared at Julie. “And by extension no one can help my brother either, because he refuses to stop obsessing. So how about I write you a different letter? I’ll date it from the year 3000 and everything! We can use it to get you and the rest of your band off the psychotropic drugs, ensuring that you’re living in the present for a change.”
Julie looked back at Mary reflectively, drumming her fingers on the wall. “Look, if I tell you more, do you promise not to repeat the rest of it to anybody?”
Mary was pretty sure repeating any of the last five minutes to anyone would be an exercise in futility. She made a vague waving gesture in the air. “What the hell. I’m leaving tomorrow morning anyway.”
Julie continued to regard the other girl in silence for close to a minute before speaking again. “The future letter I got was in Carrie’s handwriting. So it must be legit. It directed me to watch her, and rescue certain electronic parts from her trash. Which I did. I’m now reconstructing the time machine.”
Mary stared. “Of course you are.”
“But the others cannot know that, lest word get back to Glen,” Julie insisted. “That’s also why it had to be me. Luci and Frank, they’re the ones Glen would suspect, not me.” She frowned. “However… there is one thing that bothers me.”
“The letter was so vague. I mean, Future Carrie must have written it in a hurry, but even so…” Julie shook her head. “No specific dates. No indication of how the parts would need to be reassembled.”
“No mention of people you could talk to,” Mary added dryly.
“I’ve never been a team player,” Julie countered. “I work best in isolation, and over the long term. And this WILL take a while, surely another reason why I was selected. It’s just, something about the situation bothers me, and I can’t pinpoint it.”
“Loverly.” Mary finally pressed both hands to her temples. ‘I’d help you out, but you broke my brain,’ is what she was inclined to add. As it was, she opted for one last shot at psychoanalysis.
“Well, your situation has no easy answer,” she stated with a calm she did not feel. “What you need to do is decide what’s more important to you. Complete secrecy over some ridiculous one-woman plan that even you apparently aren’t allowed to completely know about… or being a little more forthcoming to my brother and the people who call you a friend. Hell, more than a friend.”
Julie’s face twitched. “It’s more complicated than tha–”
“Goddamn it Julie, it’s only more complicated because you’re MAKING it more complicated!” Mary fired back, patience gone. She rose out of her seat to stare Julie right in the eyes. “Not everything in your life is a damn conspiracy! Now, are you happy about closing yourself off from my brother?! Don’t think about it, just answer!”
“Good. Then DO something about it!” Mary concluded, slapping her hand against the wall next to the brunette’s head.
Julie jumped at the action, then frowned, seemingly mulling it over. “There… may be something I can do,” she realized. “Thank you. So much.” A pause, and then, “You know, you’re a lot more ‘in your face’ than Doc Golden ever was.”
“I’m a university student,” Mary repeated, feeling the adrenaline surge leaving her. She pulled her arm back and allowed her body fall backwards onto the couch again. “As such, I think you’d better leave now, before I add anything I shouldn’t.”
Julie nodded, heading for the stairs. “I’ll get Phil to come back down and check on you.”
“I wish we didn’t have to do this,” Clarke sighed. He leaned back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling.
“You promised,” Carrie reminded him. “This was my condition. If Mary showed ANY signs that she was having trouble dealing with what we’d told her…”
“I know! I know, I’d just hoped… well, I don’t know, that she would be able to do more. Even help us going forwards. For that matter, Julie saying she’d ‘make things up to me’ is awful vague. What if she wasn’t serious? What if she changes her mind? What if…”
“Clarke,” Carrie interrupted. “You know your sister. Do you really think Mary will be able to handle the rest of her studies after what she’s been told? That she’s not going to be constantly worried about you? That she’s not going to mention the time travel to anyone else?!”
Clarke made no reply. He knew he had to grant Carrie her points. So he merely looked over towards the door to the basement. The room where he’d left his sister, minutes ago, lying on the couch.
He couldn’t see it, but at that moment she was, in fact, looking up at the redheaded boy who had walked up to her.
“Look, if you have any problems the doctor is not ‘IN’, okay?” the blonde university student groaned. “I need a rest. A lot of rest.”
“I’m not here about my problems,” Glen responded. “I’m here about yours.”
Mary sat up slightly. “I beg your pardon?”
“You are going to do something for me now,” Glen continued calmly. “Listen carefully. You are going to lie back down and forget everything you have been told about time travel over the last few days.”
“What?” Mary protested weakly even as she lay back down. “I… I don’t…”
“Your conversations with Phil, Carrie, and everyone else had nothing to do with time travel. They were simply discussions of a personal nature. Discussions about relationships and so forth.”
“They were simply personal,” Mary repeated automatically. “But…”
“Once I have left this room,” Glen persisted, “you will not remember seeing me, and the idea of time travel will seem as ludicrous to you as it did before Phil brought it up. Any apparent gaps in your memory will be filled in by your own mind. Do you understand me, Mary Clarke?”
“I… I understand,” Mary yielded, her body relaxing.
“Good,” Glen affirmed.
He took a couple of steps towards the stairway. Then, after he had confirmed that the door at the top was still shut, he looked back towards Clarke’s sister. “One last thing,” he said, unable to keep from smiling. “Before everything is completely forgotten… you will tell me what was said to you by the following people….”
NEXT: Four Part Harmony. Voted for T&T lately?