February 5, 2052
He stood and stared at the parchment paper in his right hand which felt like an eternity. Written on it in bold letters were the words ‘I apologise for everything that I have ever done to you, Emily’. He was utterly perplexed, merely by the fact that he had not seen nor heard of Emily in over ten years. Nor could he think of any injustices she has committed towards him.
“James, are you alright?”
The voice came from behind him. It belonged to a young woman named Sara. She was wearing a floral dress which sat quite elegantly on her petite frame. She had long, dark hair and dark brown eyes.
“Oh hi there Sara, yes…yes, I am fine,” he responded politely, folding up the parchment paper and putting it in his overcoat.
“You seem…bothered,” she said worriedly.
“No I am fine, really. What can I help you with?” he said, quickly trying to change the subject.
They were standing in a small, quaint bakery owned by James’ stepfather. It was a clean, cosy establishment filled with different kinds of delicious pastries and confectionaries. Anything from soft, warm bagels to delicious, moist, chocolate muffins. Sara was their most loyal customer. She came every day at the exact same time and always bought two large whole wheat buns.
“The usual,” she responded with a smile.
He went behind the counter and grabbed two whole wheat buns, put them in a paper packet and handed it to her.
“I hope you enjoy them. They just got out of the oven.”
“Oh thank you James, I am sure I will, I always do,” she added, smiling at him.
A short, awkward silence followed with the two of them just staring at one another.
“How is your mom?” said James, after a lengthy silence.
“She is great,” she smiled. “She is apparently starting her thirty day yoga program tomorrow.”
“Oh really?” he laughed.
Sara’s mother Monica is a fitness enthusiast and so is Sara. Together they own the local gym, a small establishment in the city center, helping people reach their fitness goals. Sara’s mother is always looking for ways to improve her fitness level. Her new interest is apparently yoga.
“Would you like to join me for dinner tonight?” she said hurriedly, while her cheeks were turning red. “I bought a lovely salmon earlier from Simon’s. I know how much you love salmon. So…I-I thought-maybe you would like to join me…perhaps.”
A sudden wave of awkwardness swept through the room. Sara has had a crush on James for years which was quite obvious but sadly he did not feel the same.
“I…I already made plans,” he responded awkwardly, feeling a wave of sudden guilt rushing over him. Well in his defense, he thought, he had made plans to see his friend Evan at their favourite bar later that evening. So technically, it was not a lie.
“Oh, oh well maybe next time then,” she stuttered, looking disappointed.
“Yes…definitely next time.”
She handed him the money owed for the loaves, said her goodbyes and left.
Adam’s bar was a small, smelly and awfully moldy establishment. It was filled with drunkards making an unnecessary amount of noise. In one corner there was an overweight man standing on a table, singing his heart out while on the other, a fight just broke out as one gentleman told another that he did not know how to drink properly. James was sitting at a small round table in the center of the room with a large goblet of beer. He looked up from his goblet to see that his friend Evan had finally arrived. He waved to Evan and his friend quickly huddled over.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, making a gesture to the barman that he wanted a beer. “I was held up at work. Jane wanted me to cover the fundraiser that happened downtown today.”
Evan was a newspaper journalist and a very good one at that. He always complains, however, that nothing ever interesting happens in their city. The most interesting news story he wrote about since becoming a journalist was a cat fashion show. Literally, the show consisted of a bunch of cats, walking on a catwalk, showing off some interesting feline clothes designs. Jane was his boss and also the newspaper’s editor.
“How did it go?”
“It was boring. It was for a good cause but boring nonetheless,” he said, lighting a cigarette and taking a whiff.
“What was the fundraiser for?”
“It was for an elderly man that needed a hip replacement. He was very popular I have to say because quite a few people turned up.”
“That’s good,” smiled James.
“Yeah, but still-I can’t wait until I cover an actual, real story. I guess that is the downside to living in the safest city on the planet huh.”
The barman came and handed Evan his drink, leaving in a sudden haste when the overweight fellow that was singing on the table broke and fell through it. Two overweight policemen suddenly arrived and politely escorted the two men who got into a fight earlier out the door.
“So-interesting news…I received a letter today.”
“You mean an email?”
“No, not an email, an actual letter.”
“You received a letter?” he responded looking shocked. “Really? Who the hell still writes letters?”
“That is exactly what I thought when I received it,” he laughed. “Well, you would never guess who this letter was from.”
“Uh…a time traveler-that is actually from a time when people were still writing letters to one another.”
“Emily,” he smiled, leaning back in his chair.
“Emily? Really? Your ex girlfriend Emily?” said Evan, looking confused.
“That is the one,” he nodded.
“What did it say? This letter?” he mumbled, while taking a gulp of beer. “And does it explain why she is not using a more modern form of communication?”
“Well, she wrote that she apologized for everything that she has ever done to me.”
“What crimes has she ever committed against you?”
“I have not the faintest idea.”
Evan gulped down his remaining beer and gestured for another one. He finished his cigarette, killing it underneath the table and lit one more.
“Well I will tell you one thing,” he hissed, taking a whiff. “This mystery letter of yours is much more interesting than any story I have ever had to cover as a journalist…”
“Oh…come off it, you have covered plenty of interesting stories.”
“Covering a story of how many english muffins one can eat in ten minutes is not a story…”
“Hey-I quite enjoyed that article…
“Yeah you would!”
“I happen to enjoy English muffins and knowing that there are a few individuals out there that try to consume as much of it in as…”
“Oh stop it!”
They both laughed at the pure absurdity of that article. The barman finally brought Evan his second pint and quickly hurried off to the next potential incident.
“So…Is that all it said?”
“Well you know what you have to do then.”
“You need to look her up and find her. Find out what this letter means.”
“I don’t think I should…”
“You have to, I know you James. This will bother you until the end of time if you don’t.”
He let what Evan said sink in and gulped down the rest of his beer. He knew Evan was right. He could not stop thinking about the letter since reading it, coming up with different theories in his head as to what it could mean.
“Where do you think I should start?” he said finally.
“Didn’t she have a brother?” responded Evan. “What was his name? Tom…Timothy…”
“Ah…Tobias, why don’t you ask him where she is?”
A sudden slew of bad memories rushed through James’ head. Emily’s brother Tobias was not fond of James at all and he was never afraid to let his feelings be known. When they were dating, Tobias would always, every chance he would get, let Emily know that she was making a big mistake dating James.
“That is if he will even want to see me.”
“Why wouldn’t he…” Evan’s expression suddenly changed and started laughing out loud. “…I completely forgot that he despised you right?”
“Yep, it will be very, very interesting seeing him again.”
Evan continued laughing and started grasping his stomach, unable to control himself.
“Please can I come with you?” gasped Evan, taking a few heavy breaths, “I really want to see his face when you show up at his door?”
“No way, I think I should probably do this alone.”
“It will be difficult enough for me dealing with Tobias without getting annoyed at you being unable to control your laughter in the background.”
“Oh come on James, I need this okay, I need some excitement. I have just had the most boring day of my life.”
“I promise I will not burst out laughing when things go sour, which they will I might add.”
“You cannot promise me that.”
“Ah you know me too well,” said Evan, laughing again. “Okay fine!”
The next morning he woke up early and got dressed by putting on a black t-shirt and blue jeans. He debated between his white running shoes and black loafers as he might do a lot of running away today depending on how it goes with Tobias. He eventually settled on the black loafers by telling himself that there will be no running away today. No matter how bad, things might turn out. He put on his brown leather jacket and headed downstairs for breakfast. When he arrived downstairs his stepfather was sitting comfortably on the couch with a pack of potato chips, watching TV. He was wearing green shorts with a white robe. He had dark grey hair that steadily reached his upper back and had a thick goatee.
“You are up early dad,” he said, grabbing some bread from the fridge.
He started calling his stepfather “dad” at the age of ten. He never knew his real father and since his stepfather was the closest thing to a dad that he ever knew, he thought why not.
“So are you,” he responded, without taking his eyes off the television. “I thought it was your day off.”
His stepfather, Ryan Simmons, was a good man. In fact he was the best man James knew. He started dating James’ mother soon after James turned nine years old and he has been the only father figure in his life since. Ryan taught him how to ride a bike, drive a car and be a gentleman to women. He taught him everything and has always been there for James when he needed him the most. Ryan came from quite a wealthy family. After his father passed away he quit his job and used his inheritance left to him, to follow his dream by opening up his own bakery. After marrying James’ mother he made her a co-owner of the bakery and James has been helping out there ever since.
“I have a few errands to run today,” said James, smearing a healthy dose of peanut butter on his bread. “Where is mom?”
“Margaret left early this morning. She too had a few errands to run, apparently.”
James took a bite of his sandwich and took a seat next to his stepfather. An advertisement suddenly appeared on the television, showing off the city of Llewellyn in all its glory. There were images of tall luscious buildings, beautiful lakes, majestic mountains and a father playing with his daughter in a greenish setting. A woman suddenly appeared in the foreground with a big smile on her face, staring deeply at the camera as if getting ready to be flirtatious. “Llewellyn…” she started, with a soft, soothing voice “…a place where all your hopes and dreams can come true. Llewellyn is a place free of crime and horrible injustices. Since the implementation of androids in our police force ten years ago, crime has drastically decreased every single year. And, of course we can thank the amazing engineers over at Neubotics for that.”
“God I hate these ads!” hissed James, taking another bite out of his sandwich.
“And now, after all these years,” continued the lady, “we can finally say that crime is a thing of the past. Llewellyn-is-the safest place on earth. Llewellyn-is your home.” The woman immediately turned around and joined the man playing with his daughter and the screen slowly faded to black.
“That was cringey,” said James mockingly, finishing his sandwich.
“Well it is true,” laughed his stepfather, slowly getting up. “It is the safest place on earth.”
“Where are you going?”
“Errands,” he said jokingly.
He sat on the bus pondering about what he was going to say to Tobias. “Hey Tobias, it’s me, James, Emily’s ex boyfriend, the guy you’ve hated since day one,” he thought to himself. “So-your sister sent me a letter the other day and I wanted to get a hold of her. Any idea where she might be?” He then pictured Tobias staring him down with an angry, irritated expression and saying “Like hell I’m going to tell you where my sister is. Fuck off James, fuck off and don’t ever show your face here again.” He immediately snapped out of his day dream when the bus finally halted at the bus stop. He exited the bus and hesitantly headed towards his destination.