A Favour

My friend Amy Cheung is a science fiction writer. It’s no surprise, really. Ever since she was twelve she’s gone to a special writers’ camp every summer for two weeks. Now that she’s grown up, she goes there to teach. It sounds kind of boring to me, but Amy just loves it. And she always comes back with new ideas.

Bill and I had been back from our trip to Paris about a week when Amy called and invited us to her apartment. She was all mysterious, telling me on the phone that something important was going to happen soon. I thought maybe she’d finally found a guy that wasn’t completely weirded out after the first date.

When we got there Amy poured us each a glass of wine and herself a lemonade. No guy was in evidence, so my guess was wrong. We chatted for a bit and then she got serious.

“Mandy, Bill, do you remember when I bought you the house?”

“Yes, how could we forget? We still live there.” When Bill and I were first married, finances were extremely tight. Amy had bought us a house as a wedding present, even though she lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment; she still does.

“Remember when I said one day I would ask you a favour that would probably be worth the cost of the house?”

I finally got it. It was time for the favour. “Yes.”

“Something’s going to happen, and I’m going to need you to look after me for a while.”

“Oh God, Amy, what is it? Cancer?”

She chuckled to herself. “No, no, nothing like that. I’m not sick or anything. But I have to give up my apartment. Is that in-law suite of yours ready for occupancy?”

“Sort of. We’ll have to clean some stuff out of it, and get some proper furniture. You haven’t gone broke or anything, have you Amy? Bill and I would be happy–”

“No, no. I’m not broke, though I may have some trouble with money eventually. I need a place to hide out for a while.”

“Hide out? What’s happened?” How could Amy have gotten in trouble with the law?

She looked exasperated. “Look, I’ve only got a couple of minutes left. Something is about to happen and I’m going to need a place to stay for a while. Do you remember the Laws of Time Travel from my stories?”

“Sort of.”

“Remember how nobody can travel back into the past of their own life because they just end up inhabiting their own body?”

“Um.” If she’d mentioned it I hadn’t been paying attention.

“I didn’t think so. Well, when I was twelve I did it. But I thought it would be okay because I was going into my future. Then I thought it through.”

“I don’t understand, Amy. What’s the problem?”

There was a flash of light and Amy was suddenly twelve years old.

“That’s the problem.”