The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler's Wife Book 1, Chapter 8 Summary
How It All Goes Down
Eat or be Eaten
- Saturday, November 30, 1991 (Henry is 29, Clare is 20): Clare invites Henry to have dinner at her apartment, along with her roommate Charisse and Charisse's boyfriend Gomez. Henry arrives, nervous. Gomez welcomes him in. He calls him "Library Boy." Clare tries to fix dinner, but everyone knows that she can't cook, so Henry takes over the kitchen. An hour later, the four of them sit down at the table, doting over the delicious meal Henry just made. During conversation, Gomez continues to tease Clare, while Charisse continues to tell him to shut up.
- Alone in the kitchen, Gomez tells Clare that he has seen Henry before, calling him "that guy I warned you about" (1.8.68). Later, when Henry asks Gomez if they have met before, Gomez confirms that he frequently saw Henry running around with a girl named Ingrid. His statement seems to be meant for Clare. Before Henry leaves, Clare assures him that Gomez will be OK.
- Saturday, December 14, 1991/Tuesday, May 9, 2000 (Henry is 36): Henry finds himself beating up another guy on the street at night for calling him "faggot," when suddenly Gomez appears. It just so happens that Henry's victim is Nick, a friend of his. Henry asks Gomez what day and year it is, and he tells him it's December 14, 1991 – about two weeks after they met for dinner at Clare's apartment. Henry lets go of Nick and walks away. Gomez trails after him, just as Henry breaks into an Army Supply Store to get different clothes, since the duds he's wearing caused Nick to call him names. Gomez seems to be just as shocked as he is fascinated by Henry's behavior.
- After Henry changes his clothes, they have dinner together. Gomez presses Henry to tell him what's going on, and to explain such things as the fact that Clare has a photo of him long before they "officially" met. Henry reveals to Gomez that he's a time traveler and often finds himself in situations that call for drastic measures: "So in order to cope, I pick locks, shoplift, pick pockets, mug people, panhandle, break and enter, steal cars, lie, fold, spindle, and mutilate" (1.8.131). Gomez doesn't believe him, but asks Henry if he has anything to do with Ingrid's recent suicide attempt. Henry explains that she has tried to kill herself several times, simply because she's depressed. He then elaborates on his history with Clare. Although Gomez reveals that Clare told him the same story, he's still suspicious. Lawyer that he is, Gomez needs proof and he gets it – Henry disappears in front of his eyes.
- Sunday, December 15, 1991 (Clare is 20): When Clare returns to her apartment after spending the night with Henry, Gomez tells her that he also just spent the night with an older version of Henry. He gives her an account of Henry's violent and criminal behavior, and tells her that he witnessed Henry disappear. Gomez now believes that they're both telling the truth. He begs her to not marry Henry, which makes Clare furious: "I love him. He's my life… You're talking about somebody I've known since I was six. I know him… I've seen my future; I can't change it, and I wouldn't if I could" (1.8.201-203). Charisse enters and breaks up their conversation. Alone, Clare reflects on the fact that, since she never chose Henry and Henry never chose her, their relationship can't be a mistake.
- Saturday, December 22, 1991 (Henry is 28, and 33): Henry's older version shows up at young, present Henry's apartment. When young Henry tells him he's going to see the Violent Femmes at the Aragon tonight, old Henry comments on what a shitty evening that was and then falls asleep on Henry's bed. Henry watches him, thinking about the fact that his older version is the man who Clare fell in love with in her childhood and the man who she'll be guiding him toward. Henry goes for a run. "Running is… proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary of my body to my will" (1.8.236).
- Evening, the same day (Henry is 28 and 33, Clare is 20): At the Violent Femmes concert with Clare, Henry goes to get drinks and doesn't return. Searching for him, Clare finally finds him involved in an intense conversation with Ingrid. Henry leaves Ingrid just standing there and pulls Clare away to dance. Later, in the ladies room, Clare runs into Ingrid and her friend Celia. Celia tells her to stay away from Henry: "Henry, he's bad news, but he's Ingrid's bad news, and you be a fool to mess with him" (1.8.264). She adds that Henry promised Ingrid that they'd married, only to break it off later.
- Still disturbed by Celia's words, Clare returns to Henry. She tells him that Celia warned her about him and starts to cry. Henry argues that Celia despises him because she's in love with Ingrid. He admits to having been a womanizer, but that he never had the slightest intention of marrying Ingrid. He reminds Clare that, in the present, he's not the man she fell in love with in her childhood, and that she needs to teach him to become that man just like he taught her about the world when she was a little girl.
- Clare realizes that her longing for her future Henry has left present Henry by the wayside and suddenly feels a strong urge to mommy him along.
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