As she enters the living room, Tara reminds herself of a cartoon character, ostentatiously making a big show of walking quietly on tip-toe. She daren’t make any noise though. This isn’t her house and she doesn’t want to wake the people sleeping upstairs. The shock of her being there would probably kill them.
Tara heads slowly towards the orange sofa in the middle of the room which is turned to face the TV. The sofa is, she notes delightedly, as absolutely hideous as she remembers it.
She looks at the photographs on the mantelpiece. There are two, either side of the clock. On the left is Tara, aged eight, half-buried on a beach, grinning madly with her father and grandfather either side of her. On the right is a photo two decades older showing almost the same image, except this time the half-buried child is Tara’s father, with her grandfather and great-grandfather either side.
Back when she’d been part of the team that made time-travel a reality, Tara imagined the important things she’d want to see: the historical events, the important people only known from paintings. She’d see the dinosaurs first hand and go to the church fete where all the members of The Twenty Spaniel-Eyed Guys met.
But developing the means of time-travel, creating a device to contain it, ironing out all the multifarious problems… she rarely slept and it had left her with no time for her family or husband; they’d faded into the background a while ago now. She thought she’d heard someone say her husband was miles away with another woman these days, but she wasn’t sure.
Life is complicated. But she’s learned how to unwind and sleep.
Tara doesn’t go solving historical mysteries or meeting past celebrities. Curled up for a few hours’ sleep in a place she used to love is all she really wants. She carefully lowers herself onto the sofa, looks at the clock and estimates she can get a couple of hours sleep here before Grandma and Grandad come downstairs.
She briefly wonders if this is a day when she’s also asleep upstairs, and whether this is really a good idea, before her eyelids cancel out any concerns.