The Rose that never bloomed
Norbert decided quickly not to consider any of his high school love interests. None of them developed into a woman remotely like they were as children and there would be far too many difficulties reliving life from that point.
The two ladies he desired most in those years were both blondes, the first (Vickie) was beautiful and knew it, wearing skirts several inches shorter than the mainstream of the 1970s and enhancing her features with unnecessary makeup. When he kissed her cheek the first time he almost choked on the powder. Her lips were also lined with extra lipstick so anyone she kissed would bear her mark. Norbert relived that kiss and realized this was better than the Holograph machines. He could literally walk into his real self for a moment and experience the sensations. The next eight hours would be a lot of fun.
Norbert could also see the whole panorama of that moment so he was both in his body being kissed and watching it from any desired angle.
Norbert soon discovered that memories with his parents or others were not enhanced as the Fairy Godfather had explained. Only women he met after the start of puberty qualified and only if they were at any time available for marriage. He learned for instance that his uncle's second wife was enhanced because her met her before the wedding when he was 17 and she was a widow from his uncle's death in 2006 until her own in 2009.
Technically he could choose her and relive 28 years then try to marry her in 2007 knowing he'd be widowed soon after. That would be cheating, Norbert thought, so he dismissed the notion.
The other girl from high school was Christie, fun and vivacious but also religious and traditional. These obstacles got in the way of their relationship. His courtship with Vickie ended when he spotted her lipstick on another boy. She told him he was too slow in advancing towards intimacy. So he rushed Christie and she wanted a slower progression.
Reversing his strategies might work, but it was too much trouble.
Norbert proceeded to his college years. Here also there were a pair of young ladies who captured his attention. Josie was short and dainty, but demanded he improve his hygiene and cut back on his favorite recreational activities (jogging and video games). He might have done that for her, but before the relationship was serious enough he turned his passions toward Laura. Prettier than Vickie but more natural she won his heart when he helped her with literature studies at the start of sophomore year and she returned his kindness with too much affection. She was not monogamous though, so it turned out he was never her only lover.
This barely mattered because his college career was cut short late in sophomore year when Norbert's dad had his first heart attack.
Norbert had to hastily leave the school, bidding a final farewell to those two ladies and also to his dearest friend Rose.
It was easy to dismiss Josie and Laura, but Norbert decided to use these enhanced memories to explore the possibilities Rose might provide.
Norbert was not looking for a lover at the start of freshman year at Northwestern. He wanted to learn business management so he could help his father improve the family business. As the only child following his brother's tragic death (pre-puberty so unpreventable) Norbert looked forward to inheriting the business. Dad was born in 1922, mom 1926, so Norbert expected the transition might take place in his 30s. He never felt a need to rush anything.
Norbert stepped into himself the day he met Rose. In an effort to find friends-not lovers-he started joining extra-curricular groups including a midday Bible Study group with the chaplain. This was before Norbert's religious phase, but the group proved low on religion and high on friendship. Waiting for the group to start one week he stepped into the adjacent chapel and met Rose.
Rose had recently converted to Christianity through listening to some of the radio evangelism shows then proliferating. Her religion was ill-defined but she'd never done anything radical.
Norbert never though much of her looks. She was five foot two inches, tied her hair back, had acne and 11 siblings. She was second-generation Portuguese studying modern languages.
All of these had kept Norbert from considering her as a lover or wife, but as they met and chatted for 19 months she became a closer friend than any man he met back then.
Norbert stepped into his body from that period many times. There was the day he danced with her to celebrate a perfect final exam, sad moments when she consoled him about his woes with Josie and Laura and...the massage.
It was the day he learned of his dad's heart attack, May 1981. There was no need for him to rush to the bedside. His dad was no longer in crisis, but he had to arrange a return home within two days.
It wasn't an intimate massage. Norbert was wearing a blue t-shirt, but those soft hands on his shoulders and neck felt better now that 48 years earlier. Also this time he could see her eyes.
Norbert was trying to recapture his moments with women he loved or thought he loved, but until this moment he never thought about whether any woman loved him.
Norbert lingered a long time with Rose, thinking about their last farewell lunch the next day. Why didn't he take her in her arms and kiss her profusely? why didn't he promise to write and call and keep their friendship alive across 3000 miles?
Norbert couldn't stand it. He had to stop. Should he choose Rose and try to keep her for 50 years? He thought about what else he could change if he started in 1979. First there's the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Could he prevent that? What would happen to Norbert if he did? He'd be famous. Nancy Reagan might put him on retainer. The National Inquirer might start running his predictions every year.
He could handle that but could Rose?
Not only that, but he'd be listed as a psychic. He couldn't give people relationship advice or predictions, just remember a few headlines.
Could he let these terrible things happen regardless. Would it be fair to someday tell Rose, or any other woman, about the Fairy Godfather and blackmail her into staying married for life.
Norbert decided he couldn't interfere with world events. He'd have to know how things turned out and feign surprise.
Norbert never saw Rose again and learned much later she had married. As he moved on to later years and later lovers, she remained a good choice for a second chance.