“That is not how this mission was supposed to go,” I yell.
“Apparently, it was,” Greaser replies, calmly.
I glare at him, fuming mad. There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head that I can barely make heads or tails out of it all. My dad is in the break room area, handcuffed, blindfolded and wearing noise-canceling headphones while I vent at the team.
“Did you know what he was doing, Greaser?” I ask accusingly. “Did you know he was going to destroy the machine?”
“Not at first, no,” Greaser replies. “But it didn’t take me long to catch on. That machine never ran on gas.”
“Why did you let him do it? Why didn’t you try to stop him?”
“What could I have done? Did you want me to cross the portal to try to reason with him? Do you think I could have talked him out of destroying it? Besides, I didn’t have any more opportunity to stop him than you did. If anyone could have talked him out of it, it would have been you.”
I am undeterred by logic. “What were you thinking?” I demand of Cleaner. “We were supposed to get in and out undetected, not alter the course of history by kidnaping someone?”
“We were undetected,” Cleaner says. “Nobody knows we were there. Events happened beyond our control, but as far as keeping anyone in the past from knowing about us, that was a success. I’m not confident we would be able to say the same had we left your dad there.” Cleaner takes a breath. “Besides, I’m pretty sure we didn’t alter anything.”
And that’s the part I am most having trouble dealing with. I have years of pent up anger at my dad for leaving my mom and me. I’ve been blaming him all my life, not just for his decision to leave, but for every bad decision I’ve made since then. How many things would have been different had I known that my dad didn’t walk out on us? How many bad decisions would I have never made if I wasn’t so busy blaming him for something he never did.
My heart pounds in my chest and I’m sweating like it’s a hundred degrees. In the space of a few minutes, I realize that my whole life—my whole rationale for just about everything I have ever done—has come crashing down around me. I built my house on lies that I have been telling myself, justifying every bad decision and blaming him for the path of devastation I’ve left in my wake. It is with this last thought that everything around me goes dark.