The next few days glided by in a haze of pleasurable pursuits.  In the
mornings Helen insisted they do some form of exercise.  Usually they
ran, either down to the lake or up to the village.  At the store, Sam
noticed Helen always spoke gently to Jimmy, the acne-covered clerk,
giving him lots of smiles.  The gangly kid ducked under the counter and
produced exotic fruits or vegetables for her with the air of a novice
conjurer, Adam's apple bobbing nervously.  Helen thanked him delightedly
for the trouble he had taken and gave him large tips with her payments.
>From the way Jimmy's face flamed with pleasure at her thanks, it was
obvious the boy considered her smile sufficient tip for a whole truck
load of fruit and vegetables, never mind a couple of pounds.
    The day a small carton of lychees appeared on the counter, Helen was
    "Oohh, Jimmy, my favorites!  You clever thing!  Look, Sam - lychees!
They look just ready to eat, too.  Wherever did you find them, Jimmy?"
    The kid flushed and tried to force words past the Adam's apple.
Unable to articulate anything coherent, he gave up and grinned shyly,
his color gradually subsiding.  
    Helen leaned across the counter and gently touched the boy's ravaged
face.  "Thank you very much.  That was very thoughtful of you."  She
gave him a soft kiss on the cheek.  "We'll really enjoy eating them."
    To Sam's surprise, the kid didn't blush, though he looked rather
dazed, nor did he stammer when he said good-bye.
    Once they were outside, Sam said, "You like him, don't you?"
    "However did you guess?" replied Helen with a grin.  "Yes, I do.
No-one takes any notice of him because of the way he looks and because
he's shy - he's 'just Jimmy' - or they tease him about his stammer.
He's a nice kid.  He deserves better than that.  All he needs is a 
little self-confidence.  If I can boost his ego a little then I will.
And it WAS kind of him to get the lychees."  She grabbed the bag from
him.  "Come on, I'll carry these, you might drop them.  Let's hurry up
and get home, then we can eat them," and she hared off down the road
with Sam in hot pursuit.
    The afternoon of the day following Al's visit, a breeze came up and
Helen took Sam down to a small boat-house.  Inside was a small, two-man
sailing dinghy.  Once they had dragged it outside, Sam started to rig
the mast and sail without waiting for any directions from Helen, so
intent on his task he didn't notice she merely stood, watching.  As he
finished, she came forward and helped launch the boat onto the lake.
They jumped aboard and it rocked dangerously as they both ignored the
tiller and tried to take the crew's position.
    "Take the tiller, Sam, quick - before we lose the wind.  I'll crew,"
said Helen, shoving him towards the tiller.  She plonked herself down on
the seat.
    Sam wobbled dangerously as the dinghy rocked again, but regained his
quilibrium quickly, balancing on the balls of his feet.  He remained
standing, swaying with the dinghy's motion.  "But I don't sail!"
Canvas flapped noisily as the boat drifted.  
    "Wanna bet?  You've just rigged this without a word from me and did
a perfect beach launch.  It'd be a bit strange if you can do all that
and not sail."  Helen lounged back against the side of the boat,
grinning up at him.
    He had no recollection of sailing, his mind was a complete blank
when he thought 'boat'.  There was nothing.  Zip, zilch, nada.  But he
had rigged it.  Without thinking, his hands had slipped into tasks that
needed to be done.  He couldn't even say he KNEW what he was doing.
Until Helen had pointed it out to him, he hadn't realised he HAD rigged
the boat.  "But I can't remember sailing or learning or - or anything!"
    "So?"  Helen deliberately rocked the little craft.  Sam swayed but
maintained his balance perfectly.  She waved a hand at him.  "Look at
you.  You're hardly wobbling.  Of course you can sail.  Stop worrying
about whether you can do it or not and just DO it, Sam."
    He wasn't convinced.  Surely he would remember something, anything,
if he had sailed before.
    "Can you read, Sam?" asked Helen suddenly.
    His brows knit in surprise.  "Of course I can read."
    "So can I.  But I can't remember learning how and if you asked me
how I do it I couldn't tell you.  I don't care that I don't remember
learning, I don't need that piece of information anymore, but it doesn't
stop me from reading.  No-one's recall is perfect, Sam, we've all got
gaps - black holes - in our memories."  She lifted a shoulder.  "Your
black holes are just a little bigger than most people's."
    But he had a photographic memory.  It was supposed to be perfect.
    Helen indicated the tiller.  "Look, why don't you just try?  The
worst that can happen is we'll get wet if you capsize us."  She patted
the orange life vest she was wearing.  "We won't drown, not in these."
    Sam gave up and prepared himself for a wetting.  As he sat, the wind
changed direction and the sail billowed out.  Instinctively, he grabbed
the tiller and pushed it hard to starboard as Helen yanked in the sheet.
The little craft immediately responded and they skimmed across the clear
blue surface of the lake.    
    "Do I win my bet?" inquired Helen.
    Sam grinned and pulled the tiller over.  "Coming about."  They
ducked and changed sides as the boom swung across.  "It's called the
Swiss-cheese Effect."
    The wind whipped Helen's hair across her face and she tossed the
irritating strands out of her eyes.  "What is?"
    "The amnesia."
    "Oh."  She leaned out over the side of the dinghy to balance it as
Sam sailed close to the wind.  "I bet Al named it that."
    "You'd win that bet, too.  How -"  Sam bit back the rest of his
sentence.  No questions, he'd promised.
    "How did I know Al called it that?  I didn't.  It was just a lucky
guess.  It sounds like the sort of thing Al would say from what you've
told me about him.  Hey!  He's an admiral, isn't he?  Maybe you went
sailing with him."
    Sam tried to picture Al in the little boat, wearing a life vest -
and failed.  He could see Al getting cosy with the real Mae West, but
not with one made of orange plastic.
    "I shouldn't think so.  He's a jet jock - and the boats in the Navy
are usually a tiny bit bigger than this."  The wind picked up even more,
filling Sam with exuberant exhilaration as it filled the sail.  "It
doesn't matter, Helen.  I can sail, that's what's important.  So prepare
yourself for the sail of your life, woman!  Let's tack again!" 
    After that, whenever there was enough wind, they sailed all after-
noon.  If the wind was lazy, so were they.  They idled away the hours
swinging in the hammock, reading or talking, or watching the ever-
changing reflections of the clouds in the lake.  Sometimes they hiked
through the woods, watching and listening to the birds and small wild-
life.  They pointed out special things to each other; the bright orange
of a lichen, a caterpillar humping its way across a leaf, an industrious
grey squirrel gathering early nuts, flocks of migrating geese arrowing
across the sky and, once, the flash of a doe in the distance as they
startled it into flight. 
    Late one afternoon they took a blanket and made love in the woods by
the edge of the lake, while the sun streamed down on them.  As it
dropped in the sky, it disappeared in temporary eclipse behind Helen's
head as she knelt over Sam, throwing her features into shadow as he
looked up at her.  He caught his breath as, lit from behind, her hair
became a corona, a red-gold halo of flame, an apparent physical
manifestation of the fire which burned through them, binding them
together.  Afterwards, he went skinny-dipping in the chilly waters of
the lake, swimming with powerful strokes while Helen watched from the
shore.  When he came back, he shook himself over her, spattering her
with water.  She squealed at the coldness of the droplets on her sun-
warmed skin, trying to capture him in the blanket so she could dry him.
    Most days, as the sun left the sky, they fished.  When the midges
drove them back indoors, they cooked their catch, if there was any, for
dinner or prepared something else if they had not been lucky.
    Sam loved to watch Helen while she prepared food.  She worked
swiftly and efficiently, moving gracefully from refrigerator to bench to
stove, giving the task in hand her total concentration, whether it was
filleting fish, kneading bread, or slicing vegetables and fruit.  While
she worked she hummed or sang softly in a low voice and he caught
snatches of many different tunes, some folk songs, some pop or rock and
sometimes, to his delight, musicals or classical.  He never commented on
her singing, concerned that if he did she might realise she was doing it
and stop.  He enjoyed listening to her too much to risk that.
    Once dinner was over, they sat on the couch or rug.  Sam persuaded
Helen to let him teach her chess but she never really mastered it,
always wanting to protect the pawns, the 'little guys'.  Sometimes they
played cards, including silly kids' games like 'snap' or 'old maid', and
Helen showed him how to play cribbage after she'd found the little
wooden score keeper with its tiny pegs.  They also had a couple of
hilarious games of snakes and ladders when Helen discovered the board
and a die in the drawer where she'd found the checkers.
    One particularly clear night they went back outside after dinner and
swung in the hammock.  They turned their eyes to the dark expanse of sky
visible above the grey shadows of the mountains across the lake, and
stargazed.  Helen pointed out all the constellations to Sam.  He didn't
tell her he knew them as well as she.  He loved to hear her talk,
listening to the soft lilt in her voice.  She knew all the myths and
legends surrounding the names, which didn't surprise him at all, and
recounted story after story.
    "Look, Sam, there's Perseus.  He killed Medusa, the Gorgon who had
snakes for hair.  She was a 'beautiful horror' who turned men to stone
with a single glance.  'Taught by Athena he slew her, and saw not
herself, but her image'.  Athena gave him her shield and he looked at
Medusa's reflection in the polished metal and cut off her head.  Then he
rescued Andromeda - she's over there - from being a sacrifice for a sea-
monster by showing the monster Medusa's head and turning it to stone."
    The hammock creaked as Helen shifted a little, turning so she could
look at Sam.  Her next words did surprise him.
    "Did you know, Sam, there's a planetary nebula in Andromeda that's
within our galaxy and it's over 5,000 light years away?  There's another
galaxy that's in there, too - it's called M31 - and it's even further
away, more than 2.2 million light years away from Earth.  Isn't that
incredible?  2.2 MILLION light years."
    Sam stared at the face next to his, its features half hidden in the
dark.  "Yes, it is incredible - but not half as incredible as you
knowing about it.  I wouldn't have thought you'd be into astronomy,
    Even in the dark, he could see her eyes gleam.  "I'm not really, and
I don't know much."  He heard laughter lurking in her voice.  "I dated
the President of the Astronomy Club at school for a while."
    "Ah.  Was he another of your 'little guys', like Jimmy?"
    "No, he was over six feet, only most of the time he stooped so you
didn't realise.  But if you mean, 'Was he a geek?'  Yes, he was.  He was
long-sighted, maybe that's why he liked things so far away, and wore
really thick glasses.  No-one ever seemed to notice he had the most
gorgeous, bluest of blue eyes behind the lenses.  I guess no-one ever
bothered taking the glasses off - except me."
    Sam smiled.  He silently bet no-one in particular that the
Astronomical Pres felt even more astronomical and stood a lot nearer the
stars by the time Helen had finished with him.
    Helen could just see Sam's mouth curving in the darkness.  "I like
geeks and nerds," she said, slightly defensively.  "They've usually got
big, sensitive, nervous hands that they're not quite sure what to do
with and, once you show them, they're interested in using them to a
mutual advantage - rather than groping around for their own arrogant,
selfish purposes."  Sam had beautiful hands.  Not that he was a geek or
a nerd.  He knew exactly what to do with his skillful fingers.
    Sam made another bet with no-one in particular that the horny,
arrogant, popular jocks who'd tried to get inside Helen's denim shorts
at school would not merely have been told where to go - in no uncertain
terms - but would have been socked on the jaw, or possibly somewhere
infinitely more painful, if they had persisted with their unwanted
attentions.  An arm and shoulder capable of doing as many push-ups as
Helen's would pack a pretty powerful punch.  Thank God he was no jock.
    Helen decided she could wait a while for Sam's hands to work their
magic.  It was such a beautiful night.  She turned her head to the sky
once more.  "If it was later in the year, we'd be able to see Orion.  I
know a little about the stars that make up him, too.  You know he has a
star on each shoulder and knee?"  She stabbed her finger in the air at
the corners of a vague rectangle and felt Sam nod.  "Well, the one up
to the left is Bellatrix, that one's Betelgeuse and the ones in his
knees are Rigel and Saiph.  Aren't they wonderful words?  I don't know
what the ones in his belt are called, though."
    "Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka," said Sam promptly.
    "Alnilam, Alnitak and Mintaka," repeated Helen softly, committing
the names to memory.  "Mmm, I like those, too.  Thanks, Sam.  Orion was
killed by a scorpion - Scorpio - after he tried to have his wicked way
with Artemis."
    "He must have been a jock trying to get inside her shorts," murmured
    "What did you call him?  A jock?  I guess he was - the Ancient Greek
version, anyway, as he was a hunter.  Definitely not a nerd.  I like
him, though.  He's my favorite.  He's the first constellation I ever
learned about.  My Mom showed him to me one night when I was afraid of
the dark.  It wasn't long after Dad's accident.  She said when she was
small she used to imagine Orion watching over her while she was trying
to sleep and then the dark wasn't so scary."  The hammock creaked again
as Helen pulled Sam's arm around her.  She was beginning to tire of the
night sky.  She rested her head on Sam's chest.  "Mom said that in
Australia Orion is always low in the sky and he's upside down.  If you
want to look at him the right way round you have to crane your neck way,
way back.  She said it was that - him being upside down, that something
she'd seen one way all her life was completely different - it was that
more than anything that made her realise she was on the other side of
the world from where she was born.  I'd like to go there - to the Land
of Oz - one day and do that, see the stars upside down."
    Sam leaned his cheek against the soft curls.  "Maybe you will one
day, Helen.  Maybe you will." 
    Sam's very favourite evenings, much to his surprise, were when Helen
picked up the book of John Donne's poetry and read to him.  She showed
him how to take the poem apart, word by word, and they argued amicably
over the meaning of each little phrase.  Then she built the lines back
up again, extracting every nuance, every shade from the rhyme and
rhythm, turning it once more into a glorious whole.  Later, when they
were in bed, he found certain phrases and words tumbling through his
mind, seeming to complement perfectly the incredible feelings that
surged through him.
    As the days passed his feelings for Helen grew stronger.  In
whatever he did she was by his side and he never tired of her presence.
She was intelligent and articulate, her interests wide-ranging,
knowledgeable enough to be able to discuss a variety of issues.  And she
was more than capable of holding her own if she disagreed with something
he said.  Sometimes, when they were talking of national or international
affairs, current affairs to her, modern history to him, he played
devil's advocate just to hear her argue her case.  She spoke with an
insight that surprised him, going straight to the heart of the matter,
eyes shining, voice passionate.  She listened, too, just as hard as she
talked, willing to hear another point of view and reconsider her own
position in the light of new evidence, not embarrassed to admit she was
wrong.  If she knew nothing about a subject, she wasn't afraid to say
so.  Then she would question him eagerly, wanting to learn.
    Her sense of humor, which delighted him so much, was never far away,
reflected in her eyes and ever-ready laughter.  She made their days
sufficiently busy so they did not become bored, their activities as
varied as their meals, without allowing the pace to become frantic.  Sam
loved the contrasts of her character; the energy and the tranquillity,
the lightheartedness and the passion, the practical and the romantic,
the independence and the need for him.  He loved seeing her feelings
mirrored in her face; fun, compassion, calm, strength.  And dominating
them all, love.  Love that was in her eyes every time she looked his
    She was incredibly honest, never shirking a question, answering any-
thing he asked with a direct look, never prevaricating.  When she spoke
of her mother, she sometimes became a little sad and turned their talk
in another direction.  Sam felt certain that on this one point she was
holding something back but respected her grief and never pushed her to
talk, sure she would tell him in her own time.
    He kept his promise and never asked what she had said to Al, again
trusting in her innate honesty to tell him everything when she was
ready, as she had promised.  If it had anything to do with why he was
here, he was in no hurry to find out.  He was perfectly happy now to
accept he'd been granted a vacation.  It was about time.  He must have
several lifetimes of vacation due him.  Every so often the thought
niggled into his mind that vacations didn't last forever.  He pushed the
unwanted thought away and focussed on enjoying his sabbatical while it
    He couldn't remember having had a vacation before, not in his own
life, though he supposed vaguely that he must have had vacations as a
kid.  Al had told him that as a teenager he'd always been studying.  As
an adult, although he couldn't really remember any details, he had the
impression that he'd always been busy on some project or another and
that he'd loved his workaholic life.  Since he'd stepped into the
Accelerator and started Leaping, his leisure time had been almost non-
existent.  When there had been any he'd still had to remember to answer
to someone else's name, behave like someone else.  He'd still had to
watch what he said so he didn't make too many references to events that
hadn't yet happened or use phrases inappropriate to the time he was in,
ready to cover up mistakes with a quick tongue, never able to relax
completely, not even for a moment.
    Al had done his best to remind him who he was, calling him by name
as often as possible, but there had been long periods when Al was not
around, when he was called by other names.  Now it was different.  Like
Al, Helen always called him by his own name.  Unlike Al, she never
disappeared at the wrong moment but remained with him constantly,
helping him re-establish his identity.  She frequently referred to how
he looked, usually in a joking, disparaging manner, dabbing soothing
cream on his sunburnt 'Caesar's conk', flicking that 'darn white streak'
off his forehead.  When they talked, he knew he'd referred to a future
event or used an anachronistic phrase by Helen's puzzled or astonished
expression.  As he realised his blunder, his heart sank like a stone and
he tried to cover up.  Until, that is, the day Helen threw Welsh words
or slang English or Australian phrases at him, laughing at his baffled
face, refusing to translate, making him guess what she meant.  After
that, he stopped worrying about his 'mistakes' or even thinking of them
as being mistakes.  They were merely events or phrases he knew and Helen
    He rarely thought of Helen as being so much younger than himself.
When he did remember their disparate ages it surprised him.  She felt
the same age - but he couldn't decide if this was because he felt
younger or she older.  They had both experienced the late Fifties, the
Sixties and the early Seventies as children and had experiences common
to all American kids of that time:  watching Neil Armstrong take that
first, small step, hearing the Beatles on the radio and, in Helen's
case, drooling over them, seeing young men, school friends' older
brothers, go off to Vietnam, not seeing some of them come home.  Sam was
highly amused to discover she had even caught 'Captain Galaxy' re-runs
in the early Sixties.  Helen was right, they were almost contemporaries.
He had simply lived longer, and time would remedy that. 
    After her slip when she had asked about his age, Helen never
questioned him about his life, though sometimes he could see she itched
to.  If he volunteered information she listened hard, seeming to file it
away in her mind.  However, as the days passed, he referred less and
less to his past life, remembering didn't seem so important anymore.  He
wanted to concentrate on the now, not think of the past - or the future.
    He was intensely grateful Helen had brought him to the isolated
cabin and realised it was deliberate.  There was no phone, no radio or
TV, no newspapers and no people, other than at the store, to remind him
he was in a time not his own, inside a body not his.  Sometimes he
noticed the dated look of the clothes as he took them out of the
wardrobe.  Then he would dress quickly, so he couldn't see them.  It
seemed to him Helen wore clothes that were not particularly fashionable.
Again, he was certain she chose them quite deliberately.  Most of the
time he was able to ignore what she wore by concentrating on the vital
personality inside the garments.  He knew vaguely that her clothes
suited her, that she looked good in them.
    The only time he was reminded of his real situation was when he
shaved, which he came to hate.  Whenever he looked in the mirror, Brian
Palmer's pale blue eyes stared at him out of Brian Palmer's wishy-washy
face.  He grit his teeth, used the razor as quickly as possible and
turned away, so he could forget again.
    Other than when he shaved, when he tensed so much his shoulders and
back ached, his body became more and more relaxed.  In contrast, his
mind became more alert and Helen found him more difficult to argue
against when he played devil's advocate, though she never yielded if she
believed she was right.  Remembering the weak and feeble shell of the
library, seeing the battered mind and body gradually heal, she didn't
care that Sam outstripped her in intellect but was glad he was on the
way to being whole once more.  Except, that is, when they played 'snap'
and his faster physical and mental responses beat hers every time.  Then
she threw the cards in the air, laughing, and refused to play any more
games with him - not of 'snap' anyway.
    She continued to put him through a punishing fitness routine every
day, pushing him to the limits of his endurance, coaxing, cajoling and
teasing him into doing that little bit more than he thought he could
manage.  He swore, gasping for breath, sweating like a pig, calling her
all the names under the sun while she laughed.
    The day came when Sam beat her through the door of the cabin - just
- on their run back from the lake.  Crowing in triumph, he caught her in
his sweaty arms and swung her around, regardless of her protests.  He
kissed her soundly to shut her up, delighting in the way she responded,
knowing the fire surged through her as it did him.  They sank down to
the floor of the cabin and, as always, when they reached the peak of the
sensations that poured through their bodies, they were also joined in
mind and heart, melded together, each part of the other, two halves of
the same being.
    Later, Helen lifted her head from where it lay across Sam's ribs and
pushed her tangled hair away from her face.  "We have to leave tomorrow,
dear heart.  There are things that need to be done at home."