Walking along the Victoria Embankment in my city of London, I suddenly felt a little light headed and then dizzy. Soft swishing sounds began to accompany my every movement. When I closed my eyes, beautifully coloured, exotic images from another place and time appeared before me.
Within another moment, I was no longer facing the Thames River, but instead, I was walking in intense bright light. How to explain this? I felt as if I had literally stepped from one dimension to another.
More than anything, I wanted to follow those robed figures past darkened doorways and drift up those steps in the pictures below.
People and places shifted past me in no particular order. It was delightfully and lyrically dream-like.
Then I was at a train station. Elephants were on the platform. Or was it just a dream? It was unlike anything to be found in London for I am certain elephants are not permitted on any form of public transit. Where could I be?
I found the first uniformed person I could.
“Sir, are you the station attendant?” I asked.
He gave me a curt nod.
“What’s the date? What year is this?”
The attendant frowned. He looked me up and down as if I might be mad. “January 22nd 1943.”
“And please! Where am I?”
“Marrakech is one hour by train from here.” He pointed at the train carriage. “You take that train.”
I boarded the train and sat at the window of the carriage grateful for whatever breeze I could. Considering the view of camels from my window, the train was the best transportation.
Travelling in CyberSpace has a remarkable, dream-like character to it. At one moment I am standing in one spot and in the next at an entirely unrelated location with no idea how I got there. Images and events, sounds and smells flow and blend together without the logic of our daily world.
Suffice it to say, suddenly, I now stood in a darkened room with a very familiar figure in front of me. Winston Churchill at his easel! I have decided to ask no questions as to how this all happens. I just accept this new reality.
Another image came to me. Churchill and I were not alone. My mouth dropped open at the sight of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seated between me and Churchill. Suddenly I remembered the date the station master had mentioned. January 23, 1943. This was much more than a dream. There was a strange [and accurate] historical reality connecting what flowed before me.
Yes—Churchill and Roosevelt had met at Morocco to discuss what to do with Hitler on that very date. Then the two of then traveled to Marrakech for a brief holiday. Churchill, I recalled, insisted that FDR see the sunset over Marrakech.
Churchill spotted me and waved his cigar at me. Roosevelt turned in my direction.
“Alex! How did you get here? Have you come to critique my painting? But please, you mustn’t be too harsh. I am just an amateur.”
“I’m not quite sure how I got here Mr. Churchill…Mr. Roosevelt.” From prior trips, I am no longer surprised that the personages I meet may actually know me.
“No matter, Alex! Come look at the picture. I’m giving it to Franklin. He needs a memento of our trip to Marrakech.
“It’s wonderful Mr. Churchill!” I said. “The light is so beautifully soft—just as if the scene were bathed in an ethereal glow.” I was excited and spoke with real enthusiasm. “Just look at those smokey purplish hills in the background! The composition and perspective are wonderful.” I gazed at the work for another moment. “And you know. Winston, you have garnered what some artists never do–you have developed your own very distinctive style which is instantly recognizable.” I smiled and bowed my head. “Congratulations, sir!”
Winston puffed on his cigar. “We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We just content ourselves with a joy ride in a paint box. And for this audacity is the only ticket.”
He had spoken modestly, but I knew he was pleased with my praise. After all, so many artists slave away year after year as if they hated to paint. But Churchill got such real joy from just creating his art. That joy virtually spilled out from the work. That was his secret ingredient.
He set the painting against the wall and took a seat. His mood grew somber. “Franklin and I have been trying to figure out what to do with this devil Hitler. He is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder.” Winston jumped from his seat and began to march about. “Not content with having all Europe under his heel, or else terrorized into various forms of abject submission, he must now carry his work of butchery and desolation among the vast multitudes of Russia and of Asia.” It was a speech just made for the House of Commons. History would call Churchill the saviour of western civilization.
Roosevelt slapped the table top. “Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it.” He sat back as if in pain. His face hardened. He growled. “His surrender must be complete and unconditional.”
You can well imagine how much I wanted to tell these two world leaders that in two years or so, Hitler would be defeated but the entire war would not be over until August 15th 1945.
And so I said, “Gentlemen, I have a feeling that Hitler will be dead in several years and he will be defeated, but I fear there will be great loss of life.”
I did not want to say what else I knew—that Churchill would be turned out of office after the war on July 5th, 1945 and that Roosevelt would die on April 12 1945 just before Victory in Europe on May 9th, 1945, It was a fascinating convergence of events.
Instead, we sat and drank champagne and talked of life, the arts and painting. The sunset over Marrakech was superb. It was a extraordinarily special evening. I, a landscape artist from the twenty-first century had the honour to sit with both Churchill and Roosevelt.
Churchill was a fine painter, A great man found great solace in his art work. For him it was a most deserved escape from the most heavy burdens which history had laid upon him. Time travel raises many concerns such as what knowledge of their future I should consider sharing. One could be the cause of so many troubles, it may be better to simply let it be.
I would be delighted to hear your thoughts, so please–the comment box is just below. Don’t forget to sign up for the blog.
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing. Presently, The Drawing Lesson is a Wattpad Featured novel which you can read in its entirety right here Wattpad.com