He tore away the brown paper, revealing a white packing box. He opened it right there on the front porch. He could not wait--the postman had not yet reached the gate at the edge of the walk. The book said this thing would change his life, and he of all people needed a change. His wife had left him with that prick and had taken his kids with her. Turned them against him. He couldn't even persuade them to the mall with him with the promise of new video games and designer jeans and sneakers.
He was alone and he was lonely. Stuck in a massive rut that he could not seem to climb free of.
He opened the top flap and there was a layer of white packing peanuts. The wind sighed gently and sent them all over the porch, but he would worry about that later. He burrowed his trembling hand down inside and for one frantic moment, thought the box held nothing more than the Styrofoam pellets. But yes! His fingers grasped the thing--the thing that had bleed his checking account dry and had him living on cans of beans and cling peaches for a month.
He held it up before him to the sunlight and grinned broadly.
It was an unassuming thing, this tiny glass vial. Inside a liquid sloshed against the sides, blue as gas flames or the sea of the Caribbean at noon. The ad had said that one drink would do the trick. One small taste would open of the gates of time. One sip and he could witness the birth of this very nation. Or meet John Lennon. Or read The Fall of the House of Usher hot off the presses.
He shivered and ran into the house that he once shared with his wife--a woman who now loved another--and left the wrappings on the porch to blow away in the breeze.
He went into his office and closed the door and began to rummage through a box of old photographs she had left in her hurry to get away from him. Then he came upon the one he wanted--the woman he would eventually marry and then divorce--staring up at the camera in a pink cotton dress. Golden ringlets around her small face and eyes as dark as the night. She was six years old.
She would not see seven.
Quickly, he slipped a polished brass letter opener into his breast pocket. Then he opened the vial and took a small sip.
Optimistically, he waited for his life to change.
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