I just wanted a cup of tea. Just a simple cuppa. A bit of warm caffeine for the morning. Maybe then I could work up enough motivation to be productive today. It shouldn’t be that hard, even in these uncertain times.
But wouldn’t you know it, the electric kettle must have burned out. Plugged in, turned on, nothing. Double checked, moved it to another socket, still nothing. So I grabbed my grandmother’s tea kettle from the top of the fridge.
Rest her soul, she loved that kettle. And it was beautiful. It shone with brilliant copper, even after all these years. I had never used it. The electric was simpler, and I could never bring myself to use Baba’s kettle for fear of harming it. But these were desperate times. If not now, then when?
A good rinse, a quick fill, then on the stove it went. A few minutes later there was the squeal of steam, and then the voice.
“What is your wish, My Lady?”
I turned with a start, and there, floating above the kettle was a genie. Hand to God, an actual genie, straight out of Aladdin. Instinctively I glanced to the wine cabinet. It wasn’t empty. I hadn’t been day drinking.
“I am the genie of the tea kettle.”
Good lord, the quarantine has driven me mad.
“Seriously?” I asked.
“I jest not, My Lady.” the jinn said. “What is your wish?”
I should have walked away. Gone back to bed, taken a hot shower. Anything to make the hallucination go away. But silly me, I played along.
“Are you telling me I get three wishes?”
“Just one, My Lady.” he said. “Times are hard.”
But really, one wish was enough. It was the wish everyone wanted these days. What the hell, I thought, and made my wish.
Of course the kettle would die on the one morning I just wanted tea. Could nothing be simple anymore? Fine. Baba’s kettle it is. I grabbed it off the fridge, and carried it to the sink to rinse it out.
“Put down the kettle, Jen.”
I whirled in surprise, and saw a familiar face.
“Mom?” But that wasn’t right. My mother was shorter, and has blue eyes, not brown. Still, the old woman looked familiar.
“You can’t use the kettle.” she said.
“Why not? It’s my kettle.”
“It’s Baba’s kettle.”
Then it hit me. It was impossible. I had proven it was impossible. But the eyes were a dead giveaway.
“You’re me!” I said. “You’re me from the future!”
Future me gave a sarcastic smile. It was the smile my mother made. The one that drove me nuts as a teenager. Good lord, I’m going to turn into my mother.
“So time travel is possible?” I asked.
“I couldn’t say.”
“Clearly you don’t have to.”
“I’ve only come for the kettle.” she said. “Hand it over, and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“Why? What’s so important about Baba’s kettle?”
“You’re an ass, you know.” I said.
“You only have yourself to blame.”
She had a point. And if time travel really was possible, then surely I could prove it. I’d have to completely rewrite my dissertation, but I had the time. I had nothing but time at this point.
I gave her the kettle.
Today would be different. Today I will be productive. I just need a nice cup of tea to get things rolling. I filled the kettle, flipped it on, and there was a knock at the door.
“Thank you!” I called, thinking it was a food delivery.
Another knock. “Just leave it on the porch, thanks!” I called.
A third knock. When I opened the door, there were two men, dressed all in black. Fortunately they were standing a good two meters back.
“Dr. Thompson?” one of them asked.
“I’m not a doctor, yet. I still need to defend my diss…”
“Yes.” I said. “What is this about? Is my Mom okay?”
“Your mother is fine.” the other man said. “We understand there will be a temporal anomaly in the vicinity this morning.”
“Have you been planning any experiments today?”
“I’m a theorist. I only experiment with pencils.” I replied. “What is this about?”
“She’s clean.” the first man said to the second. Then to me, “Thank you for your time, Ms. Thompson.”
They turned to leave. As I went to shut the door, I could have sworn there was a flash of light.
I took a sip of wine, then settled on the couch. So what will it be today? I thought, Tiger King, or another Dan Brown novel? I looked at the clock on the wall, took a larger sip of wine. Only 10am, and it’s already wine time. Was that a new record? I couldn’t remember. The days just blur together. I really need to break out of this pattern. I have a dissertation to finish after all, and it’s not like I don’t have the time.
But not today. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be productive. I’ll get up early, take a hot shower, and start the day with a nice cup of tea.