Getting It Right

Once I had perfected my time machine, I climbed in without delay and transported myself back ten years, to the day when I had lost Ina for good.

I stepped out of the machine on the banks of the Monongahela. I hiked into Pittsburgh and arrived at the University an hour early. Got myself into position and when I saw myself strolling along, heading toward Allen Hall, I caught up with me.

“Leonard,” I said.

“My God, it’s me,” Leonard said. “I actually succeed.”

“You do,” I said, “but you lose Ina in the process.”


“When you meet Ina tonight, she’s tell you she wants to get married.”

Leonard stared at me.

“I did it,” he said.

“You’re not listening,” I said. “You are about to lose Ina. Ten years from now, you’ll still regret it. Marry her. You might build the machine even sooner.”

“I’m not ready to get married,” Leonard said.

“That’s what you think. You are ready. You just don’t know it. You need Ina. She completes you. Don’t screw this up.”

I walked away. Hiked back to the machine and returned to the present. When I got home, I found Leonard and Ina there. She looked great.

“Hey, you’re back,” Leonard said. “You were right. She does complete me.”

“Hi,” Ina said. “Thanks for helping Leonard and me. It’s been a terrific decade.”

I rushed back to the machine. Climbed in and returned to the past. Hiked into town again. Watched myself talk to the young Leonard and walk away. Then I took my turn.

“You again?” the young Leonard said.

“I’ve been thinking,” I said. “Marrying Ina might not be such a good idea after all.”

“Why not?”

“She’ll slow you down. You might not succeed at all if she’s around. There will be babies, bills, vacations that you don’t want. You’ll end up teaching physics in high school.”

“My God.”

I left him and gave him time to tell Ina that he wouldn’t marry her. Then I went over to her place. When she came home, I met her at the door.

“Lord!” she said. “Leonard, what happened to you? You look ten years older.”

“Never mind that,” I said. “Ina, will you marry me?”

Before she could answer, a Leonard five years younger ran up.

“Ina, don’t listen to him,” he said. “I discovered time travel in half the time he did.”