22 Minutes

This is from Creative Copy Challenge. The object is to use ten words and build a cohesive story. The ten words are bold.

James stood at the corner of Reyes and Linus facing north into the park.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time. 


But he already knew that. 
He took a breath and even said a quick prayer.  He let out a slight chuckle because he had never thought of doing that before.  Maybe this time will be different.   Maybe it will change things.  It was worth a shot.  He didn't have much time.  He walked into Shepherd Park in the direction of the benches near the knolls. 

This scene has played out many times before.  This time had to be different.  This time had to be the one.  He was going to do what he felt needed to be done and then hope for the best. 

Off in the distance he could see her.  His window of opportunity was short and he had to get to her without interruption. 

From the left a homeless man came up to James.

"Sir, can you spare some loose......"

"Here you go Reggie..." James hands over his wallet before Reggie could even finish his sentence.  He hopped over the log boarder started off into a sprint and stopped a few yards from her.  There she sat on a park bench reading a book.  She was beautiful.  He's never seen her any other way.  He slowly approached her as she moved her bangs behind her left ear, licked her middle finger turn the page,  uncrossed her legs and placed her left leg over the right one.

He stood awkwardly, and softly called out to her, "Katherine?"

Katherine looked up and held her hand up to block the sun, "Yes?"

"Hi.  My name is James.  James Copeland."

"Do I know you?"

"Currently, no.   In the sense of the meta-physical universe, you know all about me and I know all about you.  Look, I know you don't understand, but do you mind if I sit next to you?  I swear I mean you know harm."

"I don't know."

"If it makes you feel safer, there's going to be a couple of cops walking around the corner in a couple seconds."

"How do you???"

Just like James promised, two park and wildlife police officers in conversation walk around the corner and stop by a nearby table.

"How??  How did you??"

James sighs and takes a breath, "I've always hoped the explanation would somehow remain.  It takes up precious time.  If you can believe it or not, I am living the same twenty-two minutes over and over again.  We've had this conversation and some derivative of it numerous times.  I'm stuck in time loop, for a reason I've not come close to understanding."
"I think I should leave."

"I knew you were going to say that.  You ALWAYS say that! But Katherine, we've sat on this bench for countless minutes talking to one another.  We've gotten to know one another.  I know your name is Katherine Rhodes.  You're twenty-seven years old and a pharmacy technician.  You called in sick today and you come here to read.  It reminds you of your father and mother.  They've been gone six years.  You like peanut butter but not jelly.  You prefer your mashed potatoes prepared with the skin still on .  You enjoy tea with extra lemon.  You've been to every continental state and have a picture from each state in a mural on your living room.

So you've told me.

You've also been hurt before.  In such a way you can never really open up to a man your innermost feelings and dreams."

"I don't ever remember meeting you."

"You never do.  No one ever does.  Just myself.  Everyone goes back to doing what they were doing when it starts.  At One-thirty, everyone leaves, and I return to one-oh-eight and have to relive this over and over again.  In the span of countless twenty-two minutes over and over, I've witnessed and learned things that other's forget.  But none of that really matters.  The only thing that matters is what I've come here to tell you. "

Katherine stares right into James's eyes.

"I love you Katherine.  I love you.  I want to say I've loved you from the time I first laid eyes on you, but it's been so long and I've wanted to tell you so many times.  But not every meeting comes out the same.  I only have a short amount of time for you to fall in love with me, but right now it doesn't matter. It can be fate, course correction, or I'm just a lucky guy to be able to spend as much time with you as I have.  But I fully believe that the whole point of this... this event. Is because of us.  God.  The Universe.  Whatever wants me to get it right.  It wants me to open up to you just like you've opened up to me little by little over the course of, I don't know how long I've been doing this.  It wants me to tell you that you can be loved, Katherine.  That you can be loved by me and we can beat this thing and when it turns 1:31 we're still going to be here together and we're going to cherish each moment afterwards."

Katherine takes a second to comprehend it all.

"If what you say is true and you really do know all this about me.  Have you ever tried this before.  This.. This confession?"

"No.  This is the first time.  I've never told you how I've felt.  I've never told you about the time loop.  I realized I was holding that back when we've disclosed ourselves to each other over the..... what I can only assume have been years I've been meeting you here."



"If it's only 22 minutes when do you sleep?"

"I usually just go to a park bench and sleep until the next reset."

"And during these 'resets' you go back twenty-two minutes in time??"

"Yes, to the exact geographical point I was at 1:08."

"And you're the only one that remembers?"

"As far as I know.  Everyone is doing what they were doing twenty-two minutes prior as well with no recollection of what just transpired."

"What all have you done?  Seen?"

"A lot!  There's only so much you can get accomplished in 22 minutes.  So it's been pretty much all been legal." 

Katherine sat there, trying to take it all in.  It was all new to her.  This man, new to her.  But he knew all about her.  He knew things that she's never shared with anyone.  She didn't want to be hurt, but she didn't think she could not at least take the chance.

"All right.  I believe you.  I believe everything."

"Oh, Katherine!"

James leans forward to embrace her and squeezes her tight.

"You better not be a psycho!"

James laughs, "No."

Katherine embraces him as well.  A genuine smile crosses his lips as he closes his eyes finally feeling safe for the first time in.... in a very long time.

He opens his eyes and James is standing on the corner of Reyes and Linus facing north into the park.  He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked the time. 


But he already knew that.