I look into Catness's eyes, and I understand at once that she is no Super Kitten. Yet, there is surely a spark of the Super Kitten there, just enough for me to think that this might actually work. I picture a message, not in words but in pictures and sensations, the way I did when my brain was completely off the rails. I add the picture of the old tom, the sensation of a push. In a moment, Catness is off, and of course I'm dead. Even the old TV hacks were never silly enough to dream of a cat bringing help.
The water's lapping under my nostrils again when I hear Tiffany's shriek. Then she's leaning down, leaning over me, and her lips breath air right into my nostrils. Then she looks over her shoulder and shouts, "Here he is! Now get your asses over here!" I hear Danny, and Jake, and Dad, and even Ronnie. Tiffany gives me air again, while Catness bats at my cheek.
Danny and Jake get down in the pond, chest deep, and manage to lift the railing stabbing my leg along with me while Ronnie grabs my shoulders. When they get me up on the bank, Tiffany leans down and whispers in my ear, "C'mon, Pat... did you ever think there was a way I wouldn't come back to you?"
In that moment, I understand why people would be allowed to travel back in time even when they can't change anything. It would make us see that there's some troubles we just can't avoid, and some things that are just meant to be, and just how good what we have really is. I put my arm aroung Tiffany.
"I told you that rail would break," she says.
"I think that bridge is a death trap," I say. I'm feeling loopy, and I know I'm about to pass out. "We should sue." The last things I feel is Catness's paw pressing on my nose.
Later, in the hospital, I'm talking to Dr. Patel and Danny and my Dad. "Nobody is considereing filing charges," Cliff says when I ask. "Your meeting was clearly by mutual consent, and the rest was clearly an accident."
Then I tell them about my imaginary voyage in time. "Seriously, I really thought that book had the secret of time travel," I say. "Then I found out it was written by a crazy lady who thought it was dictated by her cat. Well, in my dream, it was."
"I gotta say," Danny says, "I'd believe in psychic time travel sooner than I would've believe a cat would lead people to its owner in distress, and I saw that happen."
"Sometime, I oughta look up who Cecelia Starling really is," I muse.
Dad speaks up: "Ah... actually... that part was real. You did run off to New York, and they did finally track you down at an animal shelter, and the name of the owner was Cecelia Starling."
"Pat may have recovered some memories that were previously blocked," Dr. Patel says.
"Maybe we should call her up," I say.
"Too late for nothin' like that," Danny says. "A week later, she died in her shelter, and by the time they found her, the cats ate her. So, Pat... what did you try to change?"
I think about it, and decide to tell about the wedding night. I'm just starting when Tiffany walks in. "Hey, whoa, none of that's what happened at all! You know you never remember things right," she says. She looks to the family. "Look, here's what happened. Most of you know, we sort of got each other busted up, few stitches, nothing serious. But there wasn't any fight. It's just that we were in the tub, drinking champagne, and, well, you know about reflex actions..." Everyone laughs, and as I look at Tiffany, I can tell she really believes it.
Soon enough we're alone. "Dr. Lilly has agreed to change my medication," she says. "Something new that doesn't have the same side effects. It doesn't mean I'm ready- I'm not- and it doesn't mean I want to- I still have a hard enough time taking care of me. But it will give us our choices back."
"Tiffany," I say, taking her hand, "whatever happens, my choice is always you."
"Pat," she says after a while, "did you ever wonder, if I ever tried it." I look at her. "Time travel, I mean."
I shrug. "I suppose, if you had, you would have used up all your tries on saving Tommy."
"You're right, if I could have, I would have," she says. "Who knows? Maybe it would have happened at night instead of early afternoon. Maybe he would have stopped to help a guy with a flat instead of an old lady who's car broke down. Maybe he would have lived long enough for me to see him die. Maybe I would have figured out a lot faster that what happened came down to Tommy just being Tommy. And then maybe I would have decided, that maybe there was something better meant to be."
We're quiet a while, and then I tell her about my first trip, back to the perfect day. She stops me when I mention buying the popsicles. "There's something I think I should show you," she says.
She insists on going home and getting something I kind of knew about, her scrap book. She lays it in my lap, and I open it. The first page holds a photo and the business card of the diner where we went on our first "non-date". Then there's photos of our day at the beach with Ronnie, Von and Emily, and a pressed wild flower. Not much further in, there's a playbill from our dance recital, Christmas photos, and a letter from me asking to meet at the park. And there...
"Oh my god," I say with a smile. I hold it up. "This is from a bar I bought her the day I proposed. Right?" She smiles and nods, and then I take a look at the flavor.