20th December, 2070, Suffolk, England
Today was Tina's funeral. After five weeks locked away in a mental asylum, she finally died from exhaustion and dementia. Ironically (and in the most sour way possible), it was the same way that Adolf Hitler had supposedly died. A fact that will forever turn my heart black with sorrow at even the slightest mention.
Every time we went to visit her in the asylum, I was humbled by the amount of care and dignity they provided my wife with while she was sick. Each time either I or Maddy tried to talk to her while she was awake, she would ignore every word we said, start babbling some gibberish in a language that sounded part German, part alien, and every time, every time, she would finish by howling at the top of her lungs for exactly two minutes and one second before her voice would start to crack and she would cease the howl. After that she would stare.
Just stare. Not at me, not at her daughter, but at a painting of a forest in the shadows, with the silhouette of a wolf howling on the edge of a rock.
When Tina would start howling, Maddy would too, but not that of a wolf. Of a petrified, mourning child, who for some reason had accepted in her eyes that from now on this would be the most she’d get from her mother for the rest of her life. When Tina started howling, my heart shredded itself apart at an agonisingly slow pace, tears would stream down both of our cheeks like waterfalls as we let the torrent of sadness wash over us as our Tina howled, and howled, and howled.
At the funeral it started off with the traditional song with a trumpet that was usually played at funerals. As I struggled to keep it together, I could hear Maddy begin to sob uncontrollably. The hand I had on her shoulder could feel her shake, tears stung in the corners of my eyes.
Once the local reverend was done with his speech, he asked if any of our friends wanted to say anything, of course no-one had the courage to, as nobody knew her that well, and Frank was in hospital after falling from a ladder at work this morning so Sally couldn’t make it either. I’d already told the reverend in advance that I didn’t want to say anything in case of finishing with exploding rage about how the Nazis had poisoned my wife. Right now I had never resented the time-travel more in my entire life. I would have much rather have lived another seven to eight happy years with my wife and my child before the nuclear bombs were dropped rather than spend a month of misery and confusion in a time that wasn’t ours.
The reverend looked at me as to ask if I had changed my mind and wanted to say a few words on the ten-inch podium, but I shook my head in grave response.
“No thank you.” I mumbled.
And that’s when the most heart-warming and heart-wrenching thing happened at the same time.
“Can I say something?” Maddy asked, in her petite, wispy voice. Her sobbing had sobered down to miniscule, vibrations of her body, the lines of tears firmly stamped on her cheeks.
“Yes of course you may.” The reverend replied.
When she got on to the podium, her head just about made it over the edge. The reverend bent sideways to adjust the microphone to the lowest height before straightening back to his position.
She cleared her throat, the most important speech to her she would ever utter, 7 years old.
“One day, when we were back in the park, in old England, I said to my mummy, ‘what happens when someone dies?’
“She said, ‘when someone dies, they close their eyes and float away to another place, no-one knows where it is, you don’t know until you get there.’
“Then I said, ‘why do they close their eyes mummy?’
“She said ‘because before they stop breathing, before they get buried, they want to think about their most favourite memory in the whole wide world.’
“I asked her ‘what is yours mummy?’
“She told me ‘my favourite memory is of the time you were born, when your dad stood by me and held you in his arms. That was the happiest day of my life, the day we became a family.” Maddy choked up then, and started crying once more. I rushed over to my little girl and gave her the biggest squeeze I had ever given her. And said “It’s alright poppet, I’m right by your side.” She looked up at me, saw the tears in my eyes and the comfort from my smile, and reciprocated, weakly, before turning back to the microphone.
“That’s why it’s okay if mummy’s gone now. Because the last thing she will think about forever and ever, is of the day we were a family, so I know in my heart, we will never not be a family. We will always love each other.” She started crying again as she turned her head away into my suit and wept as I held her tight and wept along with her.
I could hear some of the people say things like ‘aww’ and ‘isn’t she a darling!’ and I just wanted all of them to bugger off, because right now the only thing the two us wanted was to be alone together with our dead mummy as the truth about what we didn’t want to know hit us squarely in the chest.
When we got back home there was a letter on my pillow. I ripped it open with fumbling hands as I struggled to keep the tremor in my hands at a low pace.
Dear Lyle and Maddy,
This letter is only for you to read in the case that I die, because as long as I’m still alive you won’t need this letter for me to convince you of the truth. What Ulrich told me was so enlightening…I can’t even begin to describe it properly. If you say yes, you are led into a chamber where you find a naturally formed statue of a cross bent into the form of a Swastika. Inside the huge cross, It resides. The whole thing is constantly moving, sometimes it looks like the cross, sometimes it just looks like It itself. And when you touch it, the feeling is indescribable. You understand why we were destined to come to the year 2070 and not stay in 2018, why we were born and what are our purposes on Earth and when you pass through the Himmelstor. It upsets me to know that whatever I try you probably won’t go and see for yourself because your one Achilles heel is that even when you shouldn’t be, you are stubborn to the core-unwilling to see what you don’t want to. My encounter with truth has not deterred me at all from my unconditional love for you and our daughter, but I want you and Maddy to join me in this spiritual enlightenment, to experience what I’ve experienced, as a team.
I love you ‘till the ends of the Universe and through every dimension you can dream of.
Your soul mate,
I scrunched up the piece of paper and screamed at the top of my lungs. From the moment she had gotten out of the temple she had been declared insane by even the local authorities, no way would she have been able to write such a letter, especially when all she could come out with was some alien gibberish. This had been written by that dictator himself.
Maddy came into my room at that point, and darted straight towards me for a hug.
We were alone, my wife had left us alone for something nothing more than a poisonous lie.
Just me and my Maddy.
But not for much longer either.
Because tomorrow I’m going to march into that palace and kill the fucking murderer myself.