Beatrice started packing a suitcase and Bill kindly reminded her that they wouldn't be gone that long. He never wanted to be gone long, because he liked to be home in time for Jeopardy every night. Bill loved Jeopardy!.
"Are you ready, finally?" Bill asked.
"Yes," Beatrice said, and nodded. She climbed on Bill's back and held onto his vest. "Let's go."
Beatrice held onto Bill's long neck. She was careful not to hold on too tightly because Bill was very sensitive and she didn't want to hurt him. Once she squeezed too tightly and he sulked for a week. He wouldn't time travel anywhere and it was the most boring week of her life.
"This OK, Bill?"
"Perfect, darling," Bill answered.
Bill started spinning in a slow circle, counter-clockwise of course. He bent his head back toward his tail and began to pick up speed. Beatrice closed her eyes. She didn't want to, but once she had tried to keep her eyes open during time travel and she couldn't see for the rest of the day. Time travel is very bright, you see.
When Bill worked up enough speed, he jumped in the air. This was Beatrice's favorite part. She held onto Bill's neck a little tighter as they sped through a tunnel so bright she could see the light through her closed eyes. Her stomach jumped as if she was riding The Cyclone at the fair and the wind whipped past her face so fast that tears escaped and blazed trails across her cheeks.
"Wheeeee!" Beatrice shouted, and although she was barely audible over the wind whipping by, she still heard Bill mutter, "quiet, please." He required the utmost concentration in the middle of time travel even though he'd been doing it for millions of years. Once, she'd distracted him with shouted questions about where they were going (Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776) and they'd ended up in Canada. That was just fine with Beatrice, moose being her favorite animals, but Bill was perturbed and since then, banned all talk during time travel. Beatrice didn't think excited yelling counted, though.
The wind began to die down and the world got a little less bright. Beatrice opened her eyes and looked around her. They hadn't been to the future yet, and so she was very excited to see what sort of adventures awaited them.
"Alright, now," Bill said. "Climb down slowly." They'd landed in a giant field of tall grass. Beatrice jumped down, sending sparks up and down her skinny legs, but stood up and soon recovered. She jumped up and down and shook her tiny body, getting used to being on solid ground again.
Bill stood on his hind legs and stretched. His front legs waved in the air almost gracefully, while he swung his long neck back and forth several times. He straightened his vest and yawned.
"How do you feel, darling?" Bill asked. He flopped back down on all fours, causing a mini-earthquake in the process, and grimaced.
"Great, Bill!" Beatrice shouted. "I love time travel."
"That makes one of us," he replied. "Now. Where shall we go first?"
"The London Eye!" Beatrice said. The London Eye was her most favorite place in the whole universe. Well. Her most favorite thing on Earth, anyway. There were some lovely craters on the moon that she was incredibly fond of. Once she'd met a moon-man in a crater, but Bill told her not to tell anyone about him. He said her parents would think she was mad if she started telling them about a moon-man named Frederick who lived in a moon crater.
"The London Eye, it is," Bill said, and started tromping off toward town. He never time traveled to a place with many people, even though he could make both himself and Beatrice invisible. The thing is, when you time travel into a big crowd, people notice. Even if they can't see you. In fact, that's how he and Beatrice met Frederick. Beatrice had distracted him and he'd forgotten to make them invisible. She was always doing tiresome things like that, but Bill supposed that was part of her charm.
"Hey, Bill?" Beatrice asked.
"Did you know the London Eye is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world?" Beatrice asked.
"Where did you learn that word . . . cantilevered?"
"Ahh," sighed Bill. "Well, at one time it was the tallest, now that great honor belongs to a small town in Ohio."
"Ohio?" said Beatrice. "Why would anyone want to build a giant ferris wheel in Ohio?"
"Hmm," said Beatrice. "I suppose even people in Ohio need ferris wheels."
"Too true, my dear, too true," said Bill. "Are you tired? We can have a rest if you'd like."
Beatrice was not tired, but she knew this was Bill's way of saying he wanted to stop and sit for a while. And since he had just time traveled her to the future, she was happy to oblige.
"Why, Bill," she said. "I would love to have a rest if that's OK with you." Bill smiled and nodded and plopped his giant butt down on a large stump.
"That's better," Bill sighed. "Are you excited, Bea?"
"So excited! But . . . so far, this doesn't look all that different from home," she said.
"Well, of course it doesn't. We're still in London," he explained.
"Yes, but this is 2067 London," she said. "Where are the hoverboards?"
"Oh, darling, I TOLD you to stop watching those Pack for the Future movies," Bill said.
"BACK to the Future."
"Whatever. The point is, there is no such thing as a hoverboard outside of the movies."
"No. Of course there are hoverboards," Bill said. "So silly of you to ask, really."
"Why do you tease me?" Beatrice asked.
"I don't know, Bea," he said. "Because I have to tease someone and you're always there."
"Oh, OK," she said. "So, can I take a hoverboard home with me? I bought 200 quid, is that enough?"
"Beatrice Evelyn Longford, you know the answer to that," Bill scolded.
"But! Heather has always wanted a hoverboard and she'd be so, so pleased if I brought her one!" Beatrice exclaimed.
"Well," Bill said. "Heather will just have to wait until 2067 to get her hoverboard. Well. 2050, I suppose, if she can afford the first model."
"But in 2050, she'll be nearly 60!"
"Then tell her to drink lots of milk so her bones are strong," Bill said. "Those hoverboards are death traps."
"You think everything is a death trap," Beatrice said. "YOU'RE a death trap."
"Don't be cross, my dear," Bill said gently. "This will still be fun, whether or not you get to take your dear friend Heather a real-life, genuine hoverboard."
"Promise," said Bill. "Maybe you can ride a hoverboard and tell Heather about it when you get home."
"Oh, I couldn't possibly do that," Beatrice said. "She'd be so jealous she'd never talk to me again."
"So you don't want to ride a hoverboard?"
"That's not what I said. I can ride it, I just won't tell Heather," Beatrice said.
"I know. Bill?"
"Are you going to ride the London Eye with me?" asked Beatrice.
"You know I can't, darling, I'd never fit," Bill said.
"Oh. Right." Beatrice frowned. "Let's go somewhere else, then."
"No, you want to see the London Eye, and so that's where we're going," Bill said. "Let's go."
They stood up, Bill hesitating a bit as he moved his bulk from the stump he'd been sitting on, and started walking toward town. Beatrice ran ahead of Bill, grabbing leaves off of trees as she went, and then ran back. She handed Bill the bouquet of leaves, maple, oak, all kinds, and Bill shook his head.
"Beatrice, what did I say about changing things?" he asked.
"Um . . . you said . . . not to?"
"Right. The smallest change you make, even if it's tearing the leaves off of trees, could seriously affect the future," he said.
"But we're already IN the future," Beatrice joked.
"Well, the future future, then," he said. "We can't take anything and we can't change anything."
"Yeah, yeah," said Beatrice.
"You're still upset about the hoverboard, aren't you?"
" . . . no."
"Bea . . ."
"Yes! I just want to take one home. I'll never ride it in public, only in the house," she promised.
"And when your parents see you floating around?"
"Please," she said. "Like they'd notice."
"Fair enough," he answered. "But no."
Beatrice sulked and slowed her pace. It's not that she needed a hoverboard. After all, she already had a Wii AND a time-traveling dinosaur. But no one else had a hoverboard. Well, except kids here in the future, but she bet they didn't even know how special their hoverboards were.
"I guess I don't need a hoverboard," she said, and started silently planning to sneak a hoverboard back home with her.