Time Traveller's Wife

date Jan 12, 2010
authors Audrey Niffenegger
reading time 3 mins
  • Author: Audrey Niffenegger
  • Year written/published: 2003
  • Summary: Story of Henry, who time travels without any control and Clare, his wife.
  • Some extracts:

Past and Future…

“Free will?” He gets up, walks to the window, stands looking out over the Tatingers’ backyard. “I was just talking about that with a self from 1992. He said something interesting: he said that he thinks there is only free will when you are in time, in the present. He says in the past we can only do what we did, and we can only be there if we were there.” “But whenever I am, that’s my present. Shouldn’t I be able to decide—” “No. Apparently not.” “What did he say about the future?” “Well, think. You go to the future, you do something, you come back to the present. Then the thing that you did is part of your past. So that’s probably inevitable, too.”

Determinism and creating the future…

Clare shrugs. “But sometimes you tell me something and I feel like the future is already there, you know? Like my future has happened in the past and I can’t do anything about it.” “That’s called determinism,” I tell her. “It haunts my dreams.” Clare is intrigued. “Why?” “Well, if you are feeling boxed in by the idea that your future is unalterable, imagine how I feel. I’m constantly running up against the fact that I can’t change anything, even though I am right there, watching it.”

Free Will and our choices….

“The choices we’re working with here are a block universe, where past, present and future all coexist simultaneously and everything has already happened; chaos, where anything can happen and nothing can be predicted because we can’t know all the variables; and a Christian universe in which God made everything and it’s all here for a purpose but we have free will anyway. Right?” Clare wiggles her toes at me. “I guess.” “And what do you vote for?”

Knowing death…

Alba smiles. “How do you do?” She is the most self-possessed child I’ve ever met. I scrutinize her: where is Clare in this child? “Do we see each other much?” She considers. “Not much. It’s been about a year. I saw you a few times when I was eight.” “How old were you when I died?” I hold my breath. “Five.” Jesus. I can’t deal with this. “I’m sorry! Should I not have said that?” Alba is contrite. I hug her to me. “It’s okay. I asked, didn’t I?”

Letter from Henry…

it was sweet beyond telling, to come as though from death to hold you, and to see the years all present in your face. I won’t tell you any more, so you can imagine it, so you can have it unrehearsed when the time comes, as it will, as it does come. We will see each other again, Clare. Until then, live, fully, present in the world, which is so beautiful. It’s dark, now, and I am very tired. I love you, always. Time is nothing. Henry

Henry is 43, Clare is 82…. the final meet…

It’s not much different from the many other times he was gone, and I waited, except that this time I have instructions: this time I know Henry will come, eventually. I sometimes wonder if this readiness, this expectation, prevents the miracle from happening. But I have no choice. He is coming, and I am here.