Changed on chapter one of Journal of a Time Traveler – a science fiction and fantasy book about time travel
At the moment I don’t feel the need for a speech comparing my small steps with giant steps for mankind, maybe for the simple reason that I have made no contribution, there is
no audience to impress, or perhaps I am just too scared. In movies you see a strange, suspended, and fluid force-field. They touch the field, smile for the camera, hold their breath and jump. Here there was nothing like that: closed my eyes at home, opened them under a bright sun … in ancient Egypt.
The streets of Amarna are crowded. People are different, the smells are different and the noise is different, yet you still have the same feeling of being home. I glance down, smiling at what I see – white knee-length skirt and sandals, very like the others, even in the way that my clothes look worn. She was right; I am able to understand the loose net of words surrounding me. I burn from the childish temptation to answer questions raised three thousand years before I was born; however, I dare not to. But human nature is stronger than this. From a hut twenty meters away I can smell fried fish. Their local tavern, I guess, no walls, meat exposed in the sun, flies but the smell is calling me. And in the end, why not? I want an all inclusive immersion; she will take over any infection I can catch here. When you are in Egypt you do what the Egyptians do, if you know how to do it. I have never ordered off a menu in their old language, and it’s probable that they have none, but I am curious to see if I can read pictograms.
People are going in and out from the hut my eyes carefully absorbing all their gestures – from a safe distance of course. Attraction is great but also so it is my fear. They greet the merchant, and point with two fingers towards their choice: simple. I find the courage to enter and salute the owner, going slowly, almost furtively – with bat-like ears – to catch the right conversations between the people there. My feet stumble along the way, but I press on, trying to recapture a feeling of calm. I am not drunk, my inner mumbles in a guilty reaction, as they stare at me out of the corners of their eyes pretending not to look. Then I finally grasp the words and point coyly to my fish, without knowing what exactly it is. “P-pp-please.” That was all I could say. The merchant raised an eyebrow, looked at me with a steady, measuring gaze, but served the meal with no comments. They are all the
same, doesn’t matter the epoch, sell and don’t ask. Why should I care? I took a small copper ring from my pocket to pay for the fish, received a smaller ring in return, and that was all. I had interacted with an ancient Egyptian, felt like an Egyptian and proudly returned in the street still shivering with all that sun. The fish was delicious.