The Time Teacher

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Claire sat on the grassy knoll which had been the entrance to the time gate where she'd last seen Christian. She wasn't one to wallow in self-pity, but with each day that passed since he'd left her alone, she'd only grown more miserable and impatient with the life she had to still live. Greg, her friend who owned the antiques and cigar shop below her apartment in the city, made sure to express his feelings about the growing number of wine bottles she was consuming each day. He'd even threatened to report his observations to her boss.

What was she, a child? She was an adult in charge of her own life and own choices, dammit. If she was tired of traveling into godforsaken timelines in godforsaken places to retrieve historical junk for rich collectors, so be it. Claire knew her intuitive ability to find time gates to cross over into eras most valued by clients had made her an essential funding asset to The Truther Gazette in the last couple of years, but it all meant nothing now. Her partner, the man she believed to be the love of her life, was gone.

"It's a lovely view and all, but I wouldn't put it on my top ten list of places I'd like to lose myself in for hours upon end."

She startled at the sudden sound of a man's voice next to her. Thanks to her trance, Claire hadn't noticed he'd come and sat down next to her. How long had he been there? It didn't matter. She was certain any regular visitors to this area had taken note of her daily trips to the knoll and thought what they wished. Oddly, he wasn't looking at her, but rather was also gazing off in the distance.

"It used to be better," Claire mused, knowing the man wouldn't understand her reference. There was a patch of flowers a few yards in front of them which once marked the transition from grassy knoll in a twenty first century park to a dusty road across from an early 1900s Texas brothel. Christian loved the spirit of the west they'd found there, and she'd let herself imagine he'd perhaps fallen for one of Fannie Porter's girls and closed the time gate to protect her. Either that, or he'd decided to join the Wild Bunch and share a few adventures with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

"It's all nonsense, you know," the man spoke again, unexpectedly, still not looking at her.

"What is?" she asked as a person instinctively does to such a comment.

"Never coming back - the double gates and all that wonky stuff." He waved his hand in the air as though he was shooing away the topic he was discussing. Claire's heart sank.

"Who are you?" she turned and demanded after realizing what he was talking about.

"Dan, Danny Boy, Dan-O, take a pick," he smiled and looked at her at last. "Nice to meet you, finally. I've heard about your work – glad to see you're slowing down a touch. Wouldn't want to have my record overshadowed too badly."

"I think you've missed the point of my question," she replied bluntly.

"Ah, you mean who am I in relation to you."

"Quite."

"I'm retired."

"Retired?"

"Yeah, that's what I said. Retired. Used to do your job for the Gazette way back – or was it way forward? Ah, doesn't matter. Greg looked me up to ask for a pep talk."

"Greg....knows you?" Claire couldn't hide her surprise. Her friend was big on history and relics, but the workings of time travel were concepts he was only familiar with thanks to her as far as she knew. Was this Dan person saying he was also a time gate finder? And how did Greg know him?

"Not really, but he certainly cares enough about you to take up a lot of trouble finding people like me. A man who knows history the way he does knows when history doesn't add up," he winked. "I tend to leave footprints. A bit of a flashy traveler, if you know what I mean."

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