The Time Machine

Could a car really turn back time? Pic: Alamy

A Coffee Break Tale just for you…

We often have to go back before going forward…

Author Mhairi Grant

Pic: Alamy

Pic: Alamy

“It’s a Herbie car!”

I didn’t think Mark could surprise me but I was wrong. And he knew it. He had this silly grin on his face when he got out of the car.

“Do you fancy a spin?”

I had happy memories of riding around in a Volkswagen Beetle. It had been the first jalopy that Mark had done up and the whole gang used to cram into it.

“Does it drive itself?”


I clambered in. It was an old model with a white steering wheel and knobs with a turquoise blue fascia. Simple, really, compared to the space-age dashboards in modern cars.

“Well,” I said looking at Mark, “aren’t you going to give me all the technical specifications and a blow by blow account of your expertise?”

“It’s a 1969 model and it’s a time machine.”

“Is that it?”

Mark nodded and I took a deep breath. He’d certainly changed. Years ago he would have gone into puppy-dog overdrive trying to impress, but we were no longer eighteen, me a member of a cool gang, and Mark a shy hanger on.

Now Mark was a computer consultant and I was a teacher and we’d met up again when I’d attended a computer in-service training course being run by Mark.

“Are you ready?” asked Mark.

“Wow!” I screamed, as it accelerated away. “It certainly can move. What have you done to it?’

“It’s a time machine, Kara.”

He drove through town and down to the promenade that we used to haunt as teenagers. It was February but the sea was as smooth as glass and the sun was shining. Ahead was a willow tree in the garden of a large house.

“The catkins are out,” I observed.

Mark looked and smiled. It was our love of nature and the outdoors which had made me notice Mark – that and the fact that the gang used to take a loan of his mechanical skills and car.

“Yup – spring is round the corner,” he replied now.

“Where are we going?”

“The bay – the dolphins have been spotted.”

What! The last time we saw them was when we – when we were eighteen!”

I had almost said when we’d shared our first kiss. The memory was there. It hung in the silence between us. I had been a vain, silly eighteen-year-old then.

“Here,” said Mark when we got out of the car. “Take my scarf.”

He wrapped it round my neck and it was almost the undoing of me. A shy, thoughtful boy had grown into a tender, caring man. Why was he still unattached?

“I thought you would have married Colin, you know,” he said.

Colin the Hunk had been the leader of our gang. The schools athletic champion, prefect and the object of every girl’s fantasy, we’d been an item for four years.

“Nah, I got fed up playing second fiddle to his ego.”

We walked along the tide line, dodging the waves. Running and laughing when the sea threatened to catch us and spooking up some gulls. Out on the rocks cormorants sat with outstretched wings.

“Look!” shouted Mark. “There, to your right.”

“I see it. There’s another one – no, three!”

The dolphins were following the fish, and as they leapt and twisted in the air we ran and jumped and screamed our delight. We were eighteen again and giddy with our first sight of dolphins.

♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦    ♦

After half an hour the dolphins were gone, leaving us grinning, soaked and breathless.

We stared at each other and it was then we shared our second kiss… and a sense of déjà vu.

“You’re not going to cold-shoulder me this time, are you?” murmured Mark, looping a curl of my hair round his finger.

The first time, I’d been frightened the gang would find out. Mark was not “cool”. He was a Techno Geek and besides, Colin had designs on me. I had let my ego betray me.

“No – I’ve more sense this time.”

“You know,” he whispered, “it’s always been you, Kara. There’s never been anyone else for me.”

I felt like crying then at what could have been. Yet thanks to The Time Machine, I was being given a second chance. I was going to grab it firmly with both hands.

It was then we shared our third kiss.

The Author Says…

“This story was inspired by the sighting of dolphins in Elie Bay. My husband and I ran up and down the beach, as excited as kids.”

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Karen Byrom