by Amanda Cleary Eastep
This photo was taken right before I met a man with a time machine.
In the spirit of that, let me back up.
I recently discovered an off-the-beaten hiking trail that winds along the banks of a lovely little stream and detours around a tree that reaches like the fingers of a cupped hand into the glare of the sun.
You can’t help but sit inside it.
The following week I led my younger daughter along the same path so she could take in the babble of water over slick rocks and sit in the palm of the five-fingered tree (which my elder daughter pointed out also appears to have other human anatomical similarities).
Anyway…back to the future…or rather, present.
As my daughter snapped this photo, a brown-leather man with hair like cottonwood stopped his bicycle beside us and said that he heard the tree was an energy vortex.
He hesitated a bit–either embarrassed or afraid my answer wouldn’t affirm his hope–and asked if I felt any energy.
I did bring my daughter to see the tree, I offered…and it did beg to have its photo taken.
He nodded, weighing my answer. “Well…I have a time machine…”
I’m pretty sure I succeeded in maintaining my expression as much as if he had said, “Well, I have a timeshare in Boca.” After a quick sideways glance at my daughter, I asked him, “Have you tried the time machine?”
He hadn’t. That’s why he needed to find an energy vortex, but he just wasn’t convinced this tree had the juice. “When my wife was alive, we used to…”
I didn’t hear the rest–something about a special place he and his wife used to enjoy–because I was picturing him setting the dials on the time machine. Maybe to that place so he could hold her hand again or maybe to a year when they were young and looking toward a much distant future.
“So if we are hiking this path again and see a bike with no rider, we’ll know what happened?” I asked him.
He chuckled and explained that this particular mail-order time machine model only traveled the day before or after a full moon for a seven-hour excursion.
I figured that was plenty of time to screw up the present.
He looked at me a bit beseechingly, as I stood at the crux of the tree roots, hand on the velvet-y bark. “So you don’t really feel any energy?”
I considered more carefully how to answer this time, because I hated to let him down. Should I lie? Should I jerk around like I just tongued a light socket? Should I encourage him to instead put his hope in Jesus?
I decided on the truth. “I am re-energized every time I walk through the woods.”
He smiled as he climbed back on his bike. “That’s for sure,” he said, then called back as he peddled away, “Remember, if you see a bike with no rider, you’ll know what happened!”
We never saw him again.