‘Theodora, Theodora,’ he chants at me.
He’s a sorrowful adventurer, and he’s back. Back, yet not back.
‘Theodora, Theodora, she’s the bird I knew I’d fall for.’ He giggles to himself and jerks, as if he’s just remembered something.
Is he happier now? I was here when the doctors found him dribble-giggling in the machine. As they wheeled him off he looked up to my perch in the rafters of his lab, and winked. Happy but not happier.
‘Theodora, Theodora,’ he croons.
He always sang of me when working his strange science; a different tune when talking of his childhood.
Going back; I won’t go forward.
Oh! To bend the march of time.
Send me back instead of forward;
Children know the best of times.
I would be treated to a recounting of childhood days: fishing with his father for August tench; playing on a beach on the Vendee; looking at his face reflected in his mother’s sunglasses; halcyon memories before the debunkery of adulthood prevailed and demystified the universe.
He always sang when working on his rig machine; songs of longing that carried a sense of anticipation. I joined in his lovely laments with my harsh caw, until the day came for him to use the rig, and when he did, was it my folly to fly down and land on his hand? We entered his past where he was truly happy, and it was briefly wonderful until time expatriated him, exiling us forward to the present.
Like dementia, but not, they said; brain damage reducing his mental state to that of an 8 year old.
He now abides at the window of the care home his yearning put him in, and with a wet glint to his eyes he still sings to me.
‘Theodora, Theodora, I can move us back and forward.’