The Time Traveler’s Wife – prologue
The Time Traveler’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger, this is her first novel, published in 2003. The novel debuted at number nine on the New York Times bestseller list.
After watching the film two days ago, I decided to buy the book. Fortunately, there was only left two copies on the shelf. Frankly speaking, this is my first English novel which I bought.
Part of the Prologue
Claire: It’s hard being left behind, I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.
I keep myself busy. Times goes faster that way.
I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks, I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple until you think about it. Why is love intensified by absence?
Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning, I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as a glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?
Henry: How does it feel? How does it feel?
Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. Then, with a start, you realize that the book you were holding, the red plaid cotton shirt with white buttons, the favourite black jeans and the maroon socks with an almost-hole in one heel, the living room, the about-to-whistle tea kettle in the kitchen: all of these have vanished. You are standing, naked as a jaybird, up to your ankles in ice water in a ditch along an unidentified rural route. You wait a minute to see if maybe you will just snap right back to your book, your apartment, etcetera. After five minutes of swearing and shivering and hoping to hell you can just disappear, you start walking in any direction, which will eventually yield a farmhouse, where you have an option of stealing or explaining. Stealing will sometimes land you in jail, but explaining is more tedious and time-consuming and involves lying anyway, and also sometimes results in being hauled off to jail, so what the hell.
Is there a logic, a rule to all this coming and going, all this dislocation? Is there a way to stay put, to embrace the present with every cell? I don’t know. There are clues; as with any disease there are patterns, possibilities. Exhaustion, loud, noises, stress, standing up suddenly, flashing light-any of these can trigger an episode. I can be reading the Sunday Times, coffee in hand and Clare dozing beside me on our bed and suddenly I’m in 1976 watching my thirteen-year-old self mow my grandparent’s lawn. Some of these episodes last only moments; it’s like listening to a car radio that having trouble holding on to a station. I find myself in crowds, audiences, mobs. Just as often I am alone, in a field, house, car, on a beach, in a grammar school in the middle of the night. I fear finding myself in a prison cell, an elevator full of people, the middle of a highway. I appear from nowhere, naked. How can I explain? I have never been able to carry anything with me. No clothes, no money, no ID. I spend most of my sojourns acquiring clothing and trying to hide. Fortunately I don’t wear glasses.
And Clare, always Clare. Clare in the morning, sleepy and crumple-faced. Clare with her arms plunging into the papermaking vat, pulling up the mold and shaking it so, and so, to meld the fibres. Clare reading, with her hair hanging over the back of the chair, massaging balm into her cracked red hands before bed. Clare’s low voice is in my ear often.
I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going, and she cannot follow.