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Love In 4D - A (Very) Short Sci-Fi Story

I loved you before. I love you now. And I’ll love you again.

I can’t save you. Can’t warn you of what’s coming. It’s October 2023, and I’m with you in the bathroom, checking your back for a bruise. It hurts so badly that you swear there has to be one.

“Did you sleep on it wrong?” I ask, even though I’ve already seen what’s waiting in our future.

I’m with you in our favorite restaurant. It’s July 2008, and it’s raining hard. You can’t look at me. I’m angry, too—furious that I can’t understand you or make you understand me. I know we’re moments away from breaking up. I also know we’re going to reconnect before the year is over, then start again in the spring. Even though I know these things, I can’t tell you any of them. I have to follow the path time has laid out for us.

It’s why I hated the Project for so long. Our forced evolution, where once we were beings who perceived the world in 3.5 dimensions, now we chosen few see it in 4. No more viewing time moving in one direction. Now we see it as it really is… happening all at once. I know why we did it and why I helped. The world is dying, and the coming ecological collapse is all but certain. So, we tried to send our knowledge back and warn our younger, careless selves. Only we can’t.

Those of us who are enhanced can see all of time, yet we still can’t change it. So, I can’t tell you about this 4-dimensional thing I’ve become because I haven’t become it yet. And by the time I do, you’re already gone.

I’m with you in the hospital. It’s December 2011, and I’m exhausted and in pain, but our baby boy is finally here. He’s all tiny hands and feet, with a smile like mine but brown eyes like his father’s.

“He’s so handsome… you sure he’s mine?” you whisper in my ear. You’re kidding, and I want to laugh, but I just kiss you instead.

Four months later, we’re moving into our first house. The driveway is crumbling, and the tree out front is dead, but the house is beautiful. Light blue vinyl siding, a white front door, with three beds and two baths, but most importantly, it’s ours.

I’m defending my dissertation now. It’s May 2008, and you said you’d be here, but you aren’t. I hope you’ll show up before I finish, despite knowing you won’t. We talk on the phone when I’m done, though I can barely say more than ten words to you. You haven’t decided if you really want to let me in. You’re still so young, and so am I.

It’s January 2006. I’m at a house party with people I mostly don’t know. Strangers keep introducing themselves, then poke and prod, trying to find out if I’m really that girl genius from California. Eventually, I sneak away to the back porch to be alone. You’re already there… waiting for me, even though you don’t know it. This is our first meeting, out there in the cold, both of us trying to hide from the party.

You stumble over your words, apologizing for your awkwardness. Your sheepishness doesn’t match your looks. Tall, brown skin, and muscular. You’ve only been out of the military a few months. And I can tell right away you’re brilliant.

I don’t know you yet, but I will. Three years later, you’ll tell me about your family and why you don’t see them. A year before that, you’ll push me away, fearing I’ll hurt you like they did.

Our son is a man now and tall like you. It’s April 2041, and he’s a part of the Project. They think that maybe the next generation of 4D candidates will have more control over their past actions, but only as far back as the moment they were first enhanced. Still, he keeps trying, hoping to succeed where I and so many others failed. He wants to save you. He also wants to save me. He can’t tell me yet, but I know he’ll become one of the next-gen 4D candidates. Yet he isn’t one now, so he can’t say anything... can’t alter his path.

It’s June 2024, and your birthday’s days away. You won’t make it. You’re so thin, so fragile, and the cancer has spread too far. I’m by your bed, hoping you’ll get better by some miracle, even though I already know you’ll be gone within the hour.

“The Project?” you ask weakly. “You’ll be able to move your mind into the future?”

“If it works, we’ll be able to move anywhere along our personal timelines. So, I could go forward and find better treatments for you.”

You smile. “Some things can’t be fixed, baby.”

You haven’t been enhanced. You aren’t 4D like me, but you know your end is almost here. You take my hands into yours and squeeze them tightly.

“You said all of time already exists, right?” you ask, breathing harder now. “That the past, present, and future are here all at once, and we just can’t perceive them?”

I nod, and you continue. “Then, when you finish the Project, you’ll see me. You’ll see... I loved you before… I love you now… and I’ll love you again.”

It’s February 2064. I’m dying, and my son is weeping at my bedside.

“I thought I could figure it out. I thought I could save you,” he says tearfully.

I take his beautiful face in my hands. “You did. The moment you were born, you saved me, just like the moment I met your father. And all those points in time, they’re all here… and they always will be.”

He wipes his tears, and together, we say the words his father once said.

I loved you before. I love you now. And I’ll love you again.

It’s January 2006, and again, I’m meeting you for the first time. I can’t save you. Can’t change our path through time. But I’ll never lose you either… I just have to know when to look.

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