I woke from a deep sleep, and lay looking at my wife, still sleeping next to me. As I lay there, I started to wonder just how different my life could have been, if I had known from the start how deep my appreciation for girls that wear glasses would run in my later years. Would I have changed things, if I knew when I was 25 that the girl that I planned to marry at that time would end up having surgery to eliminate her slight myopia. But, I couldn't complain about my life, and really I had had a good life, so everything I thought about was just fantasy.
I showered, dressed, had my breakfast, and after a second cup of coffee, I drove to work. It probably wasn't really strange that I had begun thinking about how I could have changed my life, if I could have imparted some of my present day knowledge to myself as a young man, as the company I work for has come very close to a breakthrough in molecular redistribution of matter. At this point, the only thing we had accomplished was to take an overripe tomato, and return it to the way it was the previous day, where it could be eaten. Now, how might you ask, could we be sure that we were really eating a tomato that had been sent back in time? Well, you might be skeptical, because we really had no proof that the ripe tomato that we ate for lunch each day was the one that we had sent back from tomorrow, but each day we had a tomato for lunch, and then every evening we placed an almost overripe one in the bowl for our people to send it back to us. Hard to fathom, isn't it.
As I said, we had no real proof that we were able to move an object back in time, but about 3 weeks ago, I had lost my reading glasses, and after searching everywhere for them, I was about to give up, and go to the drugstore to purchase another pair. I went to tell my secretary that I was running out for a few minutes, and when I came back to my desk to get my wallet, to my amazement a brand new pair of reading glasses lay on my desk. Coincidence? I hardly think so. Now, I was just waiting for the day when we, as a group, sent a pair of reading glasses back in time. Would today be the day? The anticipation was killing me. Another question came to mind as well. Where the heck did these glasses come from? If I hadn't bought them in the first place, how did I get them so that I could send them back?
I went to the lab, where the molecular redistribution machine was located. Our chief engineer was talking to the group, and when he saw me come in the door, he came over to me, and asked me for my glasses. Yes, we had talked about this, so today was the day. My reading glasses went on the table of the machine, and in a flash they were gone. So, that is how I got them. But, still the question of where they came from remained a mystery. Our chief engineer and I talked for a while, as he was convinced that we were ready to send a person back in time. I kept thinking how nice it would be to find myself as a young child, and give myself a boost, both financially, and mentally, as I definitely knew what mistakes I should eliminate in my past life. I almost didn't hear Jeff ask me, if he could ask for a volunteer, but as the request sank in, I answered right away.
"I can't ask anyone else to risk their life Jeff, I have to be the one to go!" I responded.
Well, soon the preparations had been made, and I was asked where I would like to go. I thought briefly, and then I told Jeff that I wanted to go to the town I grew up in, in the year 1958. That would be the year when I was 13, so hopefully I wouldn't be too dumb to recognize the potential. But, first I looked up the sports records to give me the winners for 1958 through 1975 of the Stanley Cup for hockey, and the winners of the World Series from the same period. I am not all that much of a sports fan, but I figured that if I knew the winners, and the point spreads, then as a 13 year old, I could start placing some bets. I knew I would need money for the future.
I was very nervous when I sat strapped in the chair under the molecular redistribution machine. I had exactly 24 hours to go back in time, and 24 hours later, not a minute sooner, nor a second later, I had to be in precisely the same spot I arrived in at exactly the same time I arrived back in the past. Then, hopefully I would return without a hitch. Jeff asked if I was ready, and I answered yes, and there was a massive flash of light surrounding my body.
The first thing I saw was the Quaker State station, on the corner of the main street, and the highway that went past there. The station had been gone for almost 30 years. The machine worked, and I was back in the late 1950's. Now, all I had to do was find the young me, and convince me that I was telling the truth. I looked at the clock over the bank. Yes, it was almost time for me to get out of school. All I had to do was to wait here, and I would come walking by.
Oh, I had forgotten how stupid I looked in my imitation Elvis haircut, and my skintight pants tucked into the black Wellingtons'. As I walked by, I fell into place behind me, and I walked down the highway. I knew I was a rebellious kid, and was quite a reader of mysteries, and Rod Sterling's Twilight Zone novels. So, I called my name.
"How do you know me, Mister" the young me turned, stared.
"I have a story to tell you that you might find interesting. Bring a pen, and notepad and meet me at the fort, and I will tell you a strange story, but a story that will intrigue, and change your whole life," I told the young me.
"What fort?" he asked.
"Don't play stupid for once in your life. You know darned well that I am talking about the fort in the cedars down by the trout stream," I replied and walked on past him.
He followed me to his driveway, and I continued down to the side road and cut back along the river to the fort. I arrived moments before he did, and I can still see the quizzical look on his face. Other than family and very close friends, no one knew about the fort, and I seemed to be a total stranger.
"Who are you and what do you want with me?" he asked.
I am you, from the year 2001. I have been working on a project to redistribute molecules, and we have discovered that we can send these molecules back in time. I am the project director, and as such, I felt that I should be the first guinea pig to go back in time. Now, I am going to tell you a whole lot of things that might seem crazy to you right now, but as time goes on, you will know I am legitimate. But first, I want to talk to you about the three pairs of glasses that you have stashed in the ceiling of your bathroom.
His face turned beet red, and he stammered, "but…but…how could you know?"
I told you I am you. Very few people know about this fort, but I doubt that anyone knows about the glasses that you have taken from the lost and found at the restaurant. I do know that your mom found you sleeping one night wearing the one pair, and that she took them back to the lost and found, where you took them again, at a later time. I know that as you get older, your preoccupation with glasses and vision becomes a very large part of your life. I also know that you are a very smart kid, but you are too stupid to realize your potential. You are coasting in school, not doing any work, and right now you are getting top grades. But, as you go on in school, if you do not change your attitude and your study habits, you will fail badly. There are a few changes that I would suggest that you make in your…no, I really mean our lives.
One thing you will need in life is money. Now, trust me when I tell you this, but money is not the most important thing in life. However, it does give you the necessary funding to do what you want. I have memorized the winners of the Stanley Cup from now until the mid 70's, and I want you to write them down. After you place a few bets, you will start to have the necessary money that you will need. Also, I have the winners of the World Series for the same period of time. Place small bets at first, but remember, you can't loose. As I told him what I had memorized, he wrote them down. Now, forget about going into business with your dad. This business is not right for you, and the thought that your future is mapped out for you is part of the problem that makes you slack off in your schoolwork. Your best future is going to be somewhere in the optical field. Your father will get over the disappointment, and you will get along a lot better with him if you stand up to him, on your own two feet.
Now, one of the things you need money for will be to buy a whole lot of collector cars. These collector cars are just ordinary cars to you right now, but in 40 years they become solid gold. When you are old enough, you will want to go to the Midwest, and the southern states, and purchase as many mint Ford and Chevy convertibles that you can from around 1955 through 1964. A mint 57 Chevy convertible, in 2001 will fetch 60, or 70 thousand dollars. And, try to pick up Fords biggest failure, a '58 Edsel convertible, as well. I know, I know, you love those cars, but the general public doesn't. You will have to find storage space for all of them, but they can, and will make you a fortune. Also, buy a farm as close to every major city that you can. The cities will all expand, but Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Seattle, and Memphis are some of the most promising areas for future money making. The closer the land is to the city, the sooner you will have a return on your investment. And, waterfront recreation property is especially a good bet.
Now that you have your financial advice, and before I have to leave you, there are some other things that I want to tell you. Whatever you do, you must not move to the US from Canada, until after the early 80's. The US will be involved in a very unpopular conflict, and a lot of young soldiers will be killed. I know that your parents are US citizens, but please, for your sake, stay away from there so that you don't die. Also, you dumb assed kid, when you ask a girl to your grade 8 formal, for heavens sake don't ask her, if she is doing anything that night, and when she says that she is planning to go to a friends house, don't assume that that is a "no". Just say firmly that you would be honored to take her to the dance, if she would like to go with you. As a final piece of advice, search for a girl that wears glasses that are quite strong, enough to be worthy of your admiration. Go to the library and study about vision defects, and the forms of correction. Also, the thicker a girl's glasses are at your present age means that they will get progressively thicker as time goes on. But, most of the girls that you know and go to school with don't have the required thick glasses, nor will they ever have. Search for one that does. I then asked him if he had any questions.
I knew I was smart, so I wasn't worried about him taking it all in. I did worry a bit about him believing me, and when he didn't ask any questions, I thought that maybe I had lost him somewhere, but then he surprised me.
"How can I get to wear glasses myself?" he asked.
Well, about your only chance is going to be for you to get your own eyes tested. You are nearsighted in your right eye, and slightly farsighted in your left eye. Order a frame exactly, and I mean exactly like the men's frame that you have stashed at home. If I remember after all these years, I think the left lens is a weak minus, somewhere around a -1.50D. Using boiling water to heat the frames, you should be able to change lenses. No one will know that both lenses are not your correct prescription, and if you constantly wear them, I think it is highly likely that your left eye will eventually, at your age, adapt to the incorrect lens. Then the next time you need a prescription change, hold your head back a bit from the machine, and hopefully you will get even stronger lenses. But then, as you get into University, you will be able to make your own prescription blanks. And, when you have your eye exams, if the doctor leaves the room, try to steal a couple of the forms from his pad. Then you can rewrite the prescription, giving yourself a couple of diopters more than you need. . I am sure that you, as smart as you are, will figure it out. I just wish that I could stay here and be you for the next 40 years. But I can't, so I will take my leave, knowing that I have done my best to improve my future.
I walked away, leaving him standing there in puzzled amazement. I had been fortunate in that I had completed my mission within hours of my arrival. I couldn't resist stopping by my father's store, and as I walked in and saw him standing behind the restaurant counter, many years younger than I now was, tears came to my eyes. I had no money that I could spend, so I walked up to him.
"Sir, I am temporarily without funds. I am hungry, and thirsty, and would be more than willing to do any sort of odd job that you might have in return for a hamburger and a coffee."
He didn't reply, but wrote an order on a slip of paper, turned around and handed it to the cook. Then he said, " Eat first, then we will talk about what you can do to help me."
A few minutes later, a plate arrived with 2 hamburgers on it, and he poured me a cup of coffee. I wolfed down the hamburgers, and the great taste of 40 lost years returned to my mouth. Gosh, they were good. I haven't had hamburgers that taste like that at any of the present day fast food chains. When I finished, I told him how great they tasted, and asked him what job, or jobs I could do for him.
He said, "If you don't mind, could I get you to pick up all the garbage outside on the grounds, and sweep the walk in front of the doors, so that our customers will have less dirt to bring in on the bottom of their shoes".
I went ahead and did what he had requested. I noticed a couple of things that needed attention, so I repaired them as well. When I finished, I went back inside, told him what I had done, and thanked him for his hospitality. I had to get out of there. I was going to cry in a minute, as I wanted to tell him I loved him, and missed him every day of my present day life.
I walked back into town. I still had to camp out for the night, and kill most of the next day, but I decided that first, I would scout out the town. As I walked around, I again wanted to cry over my lost youth. Everything was as I remembered it. I knew everyone that I met on the street, and while they all looked at me as anyone from a small tightly knit town would look at a stranger, it was almost all I could do not to call them by name. As darkness fell, I walked back down the highway, and returned to the fort. That was the safest place I knew of where I could spend the night. And, I knew that the river water was safe to drink. I slept fitfully, and when I woke, I splashed water on my face, and freshened up as best I could. The river was too cold to bath in, and I knew that I would be back home tonight. Well, I hoped I would be.
There were a couple of after thoughts about things I should have also told myself, but one was very important, so I walked into town. I sat on the steps of the church, knowing that I would soon be walking by, on my way to school. I saw myself approach in the distance, and noticed that some of the cocky swagger that I had remembered in myself, and had noticed yesterday seemed to have disappeared. As I approached, I called to myself again. This time I wasn't frightened, and I came up to myself. I quickly told him that I would be going back soon, but that I also wanted to warn him to pick his friends very carefully.
"It doesn't matter if no one seems to like you in the long run," I advised him. "I know you are relatively poor at sports, and in this town, a jock gets lots of attention and this seems to be quite important. But, earning money, and being good in your studies at school, will get you noticed as well. Then, you will be very well liked. And, spend some time being nice to girls. Watch how your friend, Morph does it, but don't try to imitate him. Just be nice, and polite, and thoughtful, and talk to all the girls as friends. Cut out being a showoff, and a class clown, and try to stay away from alcohol, as that means trouble."
I then left him again, and walked back to the woods on my parent's property. It was so peaceful there that I almost hated to leave, but I had to be at the appointed spot, so off I went. At exactly the right time I stood in the spot, and I felt myself being pulled in all directions at once. There was again a bright flash, and I sat in the same chair I had left from.
"Darn, it didn't work," was Jeff's reaction.
I then told them that it had worked, beyond my wildest dreams. Yes, to the observer's I had never left, but to me I had been gone for 24 hours. But, the proof was to come later.
I left work with everyone else, telling him or her I would see them tomorrow. I drove my car into the all too familiar driveway, parked and walked inside. I heard my wife working in the kitchen, and I headed that way. As I walked into the room, things didn't look quite right, but yet they didn't look too different. It is difficult, almost impossible to explain. But, the behind of the lady standing at the sink didn't look like the backside I was used to seeing. And, her hair was shoulder length, and a pretty red-brown. And, when she turned to peer myopically at me through the extremely powerful myodisc glasses that she wore, I knew my life had been turned upside down. And, I too was wearing glasses. Funny, but I had not had my reading glasses on when I left work. I pulled them from my nose, and everything disappeared into a blur. Oops, these are distance glasses, not readers.
"Hi Honey. Just bear with me, and supper will be ready in a few minutes," she said.
I hugged, and kissed her, staring as much as I could at the thick glasses that she wore. I couldn't get enough of them. The lenses were flashing from reflections that occurred when she only slightly moved her head and I could only barely make out her eyes, which looked quite tiny. "I'm going to shower," I told her.
I walked into the living room, and saw a collage of photographs. There were two kids, replicated in picture after picture that seemed to be a progression of their ages. I saw the ever-increasing evidence of high myopia, as the kid's glasses got stronger and thicker as they got older in the pictures. Finally, in the graduation pictures, the glasses were gone, so I assumed that contact lenses had come into play. I went up to the bedroom, took my glasses off, and discovered that I couldn't see well enough to feel comfortable, so I showered with my glasses on. When I came out, I picked up what looked to be a pair of really, really strong women's' glasses on the side table, and as I checked them out, I noticed that the lenses were plastic, double myodiscs, in a fairly small frame. Even though the size of the glasses were small, the lenses were quite thick, close to an inch, and were concave on both sides. I thought that they must be the spare pair of the lady downstairs. I know, this lady was most likely my wife, but I was having some trouble with that, as my wife was a blond and no longer needed glasses for her modest myopia.
I went down for supper, and I ate a delicious meal. Flashes of recognition started to come to me, and I now knew that her name was Jill. I knew the names of the two children, Alex and Angela, and what they were doing, and my memory seemed to come back stronger and stronger with every minute.
"Are you going over to work on the cars tonight?" Jill asked.
" I think I might," was my reply, not having a clue what cars she referred to.
After supper, I helped clean away the dishes, earning a strange look from the tiny eyes, minified by the very strong lenses in her glasses. I guess, I didn't help with housework very often. Not only did Jill wear very strong glasses, with thick myodisc lenses, she didn't seem to see very well as she would get very close to things when she really wanted to see them and she seemed to be constantly squinting her eyes, often a sign of high astigmatism. I assumed that with her poor eyesight, Jill wasn't able to work out side of the home, so she likely took great pride in her house, and how she maintained it, as it did look extremely neat, clean, and tidy.
I looked at my own glasses in the mirror, and I guessed that I was wearing a prescription in the -13D to -15D range. I suppose that with the mention of cars, and my own fairly strong glasses, as well as a wife that wore super strong glasses that the kid must have taken my advice. I wasn't sure that I wanted this though. I had liked the job I had been doing, the people I worked with, as well as my own wife, and my own family. I did like the glasses I now wore though, and I loved the glasses that Jill had to wear. What other revelations were in my life that I had managed to change?
I looked through my wallet, hoping to find an address for the garage with the cars, but all I found was my business card. Ophthalmologist, specializing in high myopia, cataract surgery, lens implants, and children's visual disorders, the card read. Boy, I really had taken my own advice to learn all I could about myopia and other vision defects and their correction. But the scary part was that I didn't have a clue about operating on a person's eye. I could likely fluff my way through a vision exam, but anything else would be pure luck.
As I sat there thinking about this little factor in my new life, the address of the shop where the cars were kept flashed into my mind, so I said my goodbye to the lady with myodiscs, and drove over to the address. It was a lovely old gas station, with a 10 bay garage. I unlocked the door, and all 10 bays were loaded with cars. These cars were all ragtops, and were just fabulous. There were a couple of Cadillac's, a '56 Eldorado, and a '59. There were a '56, and a '59 Ford, as well as a '56 Mercury. Then I spotted a '57 Chevy, as well as a '58, a '62, and a '64. At the far end was what looked to be a '67 Austin Healey. If this was my collection, and it had to be, I had a fortune in iron sitting here.
I looked in the office, and when I was going through the files, I found titles for many more cars. They were mostly convertibles, but there were a few 2 door hardtops as well. And, yes there was a title for a '58 Edsel convertible as well. Now, all I had to do was to figure out what property I owned as well. I began to think I might be very, very rich.
Still reeling in shock, and having absolutely no idea where the balance of my cars were stored, I drove back home. I sat and watched the lady with the myodiscs, as she sat very close to the TV, straining to see the movie she was watching.
"Wouldn't it be easier on your poor eyes, if you got out your telescopic glasses?" I asked her, realizing as I spoke that I had no idea if she had a pair or not.
But she did, and she took them from the side table drawer, put them on, and continued watching the movie. I couldn't stop staring at her, but knowing that she probably couldn't see me, I continued watching her until it was time for bed. She was really a very good looking woman, and I began to feel the urge to take her up to bed. So, when she advised me that she thought that it was time she went to bed, I joined her. We lay together in bed, and I hugged her and kissed her, telling her that I loved her. She didn't have her glasses on but she looked at me, squinting her eyes nearly shut, and said, "Feeling frisky tonight are we?"
"Only if it suits you," came my reply. I reached over and put her glasses on her and kissed her deeply. I reached for her breasts, which were very nice, and gently rubbed them. Before long, we were deeply involved in lovemaking. I had the feeling that we had not done this very frequently lately, and her responses indicated that I was correct. But it was quite enjoyable for both of us. I was especially excited when I looked into her eyes behind her thick lenses and they disappeared when the light reflected off them.
The following morning found me remembering more and more about my life. And in fact, my other existence seemed to be fading. Maybe, I could pull this off after all.
My first patient was a very high myope who was here for a lens implant. Everything had been prepared, and scheduled, and my confidence was improving with every minute. My assistant and I prepped the patient, and soon the operation began. As I cut at the edge of her eye with the scalpel, I began to feel completely at home with what I was doing, and soon the operation was over. Both of this young ladies eyes were now corrected, probably not to perfect vision, but as close as we could mathematically come. And sure enough, where my patient formerly required -28D lenses to see 20/70, she was now able to see about 20/30 with only a -3D of correction. I felt very sad that we, the optically obsessed of the world, had lost one of our special high myopes, but I knew that for this young lady, the future would be much brighter. And, for her, the future would be a lot clearer as well. My next patient was a little girl, who wore a pair of glasses with a -16D prescription. She was only in the second grade, but even with her strong glasses, she could no longer see the board at school from her seat in the first row. And, as expected her myopia had increased slightly. After increasing her prescription by -1.50D for each eye, I sent her off with her mother to buy a new pair of glasses. This was fun.
By the end of the first day of my new life, I was exhausted, but very happy. I wished I could have done this all of my life, instead of dropping in near the end of my career. My one consolation was that at least, I would have the sufficient amount of money to spend, instead of my other me. I looked up the charts for my two children, and found that they too had inherited their mother's severe myopia. I scanned the charts, wondering if my other me had done any boosting of his own children's prescriptions. It wasn't likely, given that they both started life with strong glasses, but it wouldn't surprise me if he had made the glasses as strong as they needed to be, instead of cutting the prescriptions back a bit. I was sure that is what I would have done.
I soon found out where my kids were. They were both at university. My daughter, the youngest, was studying law, and was in her 3rd year. My son was in his final year of computer technology and software development at another university nearby. They both wore contact lenses, and my daughter, who had a -28D prescription for both eyes, also had a lot of astigmatism. She had around -5D in each eye, and according to the charts, she wore -16D contact lenses, with glasses over them, much of the time, to correct her high astigmatism. And, unfortunately her vision, with glasses, was only around 20/80. With the contacts and glasses combo, she could get to around 20/50, but I noticed from my notes that she had difficulty wearing contacts, so she wore her glasses with the full prescription much of the time. My son's eyes weren't as bad and only needed around -24D, and he had negligible astigmatism, so he wore contacts almost all the time, and had good enough vision with them that he was able to drive. I checked my wife's chart, and found that I was correct in thinking she had very strong glasses and poor eyesight. Her prescription was -39D for her right eye and 42D for her left eye, with -3.25D of astigmatism for both eyes and her corrected vision was only 20/100. She also could not tolerate contacts and was not a good candidate for implants or surgery.
I finished work for the day, but since I had found where the bulk of my car collections were stored, I decided to drive around to the old warehouse I owned. I let myself in, turned on the lights, and was in total awe as I gazed at the cars that I had dreamed about during my youth. They were so beautiful, and I had collected them all. When I returned home, I found a ledger with all of my property holdings and investments. I was indeed a millionaire. If there was a heaven on Earth, I was in it, first with my job, then with my highly myopic family, my antique automobile collection, and my fortune. It couldn't get any better.
That night, I made love to my wife again, and afterward fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke, I looked around, but things were quite blurred, so I took my glasses from the bedside table, and put them on. I gazed at Jill sleeping beside me. She was quite pretty. I looked over at her glasses on her nightstand, and I couldn't believe that this had really happened. How indeed did it happen? I thought about the time machine and the rearrangement of molecules. In my other life, we were able to build the molecular scrambler from first principles of physics and chemistry. But, we really didn't understand how exactly it worked and what all of the ramifications might be. I wondered if maybe there is more than one universe or dimension, and I am now in another dimension. As I was thinking about all of this, Jill woke up and reached for her glasses, as she really couldn't see anything much without them. She put them on and squinted at me and then tenderly kissed me. As she did this, she whispered that we should go to see Alex and Angela today, but not before we make love again.
I am still amazed and puzzled how it all happened, but as I look at Jill, squinting her eyes behind those lovely, thick myodiscs, I am very happy to be in this dimension.