This scene happens basically like in the movie: George and Lorraine are dancing to Earth Angel as Marty plays, someone (Dixon! HE’S BACK) cuts in, Marty’s fading away1 and can see through his own hand, George cuts back in and shoves Dixon “ten feet” away and Marty’s BACK, baby! It’s notable in the book because it has Marty saying “I… don’t feel so good…” as he fades out (adorbs) and, after he fades back in, doing this:
"Thank God!“ [Marty] smiled.
Whipping the family photograph from his pocket, he laughed, did a little pirouette on the bandstand, and grabbed the guitar again. Linda, Dave, and himself were all back in the picture, completely intact, and the feeling in his hand told him his musical powers had been restored.
It’s also notable because here in the book Lorraine has her dress torn up from Biff’s attack on her and yet she’s totally down to go back into the school and dance up a storm??
END OF UPDATE
1. SO! As I’ve mentioned before I spent many an hour as a kid trying to figure out back to the future, and right now we are going to figure out this fading away thing. This is a whole childhood of thinking about time travel in this movie paying off here. Here we go:
To buy into Back To The Future, you need to accept not only that time travel exists, but that there exists a META-TIME, because changes to the timeline THEMSELVES take time: Marty stops his parents from meeting and rather than disappearing right away, he has a week in 1955 to sort this out before the consequences of that become critical. In other words, whatever change you make to the timeline ripples through it like a wave in a bedsheet, altering things as it goes, and you’ve got until when that wave catches up with you to fix things if you’ve done something dumb like prevent yourself from being born.
Proof for this is that Marty’s siblings faded away in order from oldest to youngest - the change caught up with them first! We’re going to assume you start to fade when your birth gets interfered with. The fading isn’t consistent (Brother Dave fades from top to bottom while Marty just gets less and less opaque), but we’re estimating! Here we could assume instead that you start fading when the date of your conception gets messed with rather than date of your birth, but we’re not, because that’s a rabbit hole of tracing events back to causes that puts us back in 1955 again.
So! Since we know the day Marty arrived in 1955 and stopped his parents from meeting (Saturday, November 5th), the day he started actually fading away (a week later on Saturday, November 12th, 1955), the year Marty was born (1968) AND we even can guess at the day (most stuff puts his birthday at either June 12th or June 9th (same as Michael J!)) we can calculate pretty reliably how fast this meta-time lets changes move in this story, which is how fast changes to the timeline propagate.
A change made to the timeline on November 5th, 1955 takes 7 days of real time to ripple through time and reach June 9th, 1968. That’s 4,604 future days to ripple through (inclusive, so we’re assuming that Marty was born near the end of the day, but it doesn’t make THAT much of a difference), therefore meta-time travels at about 657.71 times faster than regular time here.
One problem, cats and kittens: with this number Dave actually fades out too soon (he’s not born till 1963 but he shows effects of fading early in the morning of November 6th, 1955, and with our meta-time speed the changes should only 3.6 years out by then, back in good old 1959). So we adjust our theory to say that these changes here travel at a speed that AVERAGES out to that 657.71 times faster number, but it can go faster and slower in places.
This raises the question: what does this propagation speed depend on? Well, there’s actually evidence in the movie that lets us conclude that the speed of changes to the timeline is dependent how much it’s being changed from its original shape. AND I CAN PROVE IT WITH MATHS AND LOGICS:
So remember that Marty starts to fade, and then Lorraine and George kiss and BAM, everyone in Marty’s photograph fades back in right away, one after the other. This is obviously way faster than our number from before, but we incorporate this by assuming that the timeline is flexible, but like a spring, it has a preferred shape. Changes that restore it to its original form propagate much faster (30 years of timeline gets restored in about 4 seconds here, which is a meta-time transmission speed of a zany 236,676,945 times faster than regular time), while those that deform it into unusual shapes travel at our (much) slower speed.
HOWEVER: it gets more a teensy bit more complicated when you do something that changes the timeline back to its original form in one way, but changes it in another way (like oh I don’t know coming up with and then executing a plan to get your parents back together in such a way that one of them experiences an epiphany and moment of personal growth while the other gets assaulted??). In this case you have TWO ripples going out: the restorative one that puts things back as they were originally with children being born and what not, and the altering one that applies the changes from that baseline.
That’s RIGHT: two ripples, baby, and they’re travelling at different speeds, with the restorative one several orders of magnitude faster! This is critical because soon when Marty returns back to 1985 he’ll witness himself going back in time again as he remembers it happening, go to bed, and wake up in a future he barely recognizes. The restorative ripple goes through time, restoring his family, in about four seconds. We see that happen with the photograph.
What we don’t see (because Marty travels through time pretty quickly after this dance and never looks at the photograph again) is the alterations to the baseline timeline that are happening in the meantime, at a slower speed. These are the ones changing his family history to the "improved” edition. When Marty arrives in 1985 he actually gets there BEFORE the alteration ripple gets there (he’s travelled through time and in doing so jumped over the ripple travelling through metatime), so he can watch himself, then he goes to bed. As he sleeps the altering ripple catches up and changes things around him, causing him to wake up in a 1985 he doesn’t recognize. This ripple goes faster than the original one did, travelling 30 years in only about 8 hours of real time instead of a week, but here the changes are proportionally much smaller! All that’s changing is jobs and lifestyles for a few characters, we’re not dealing with an entire family never existing.
I hope that this post convinces you that changes to the timeline in the Back to the Future (Part 1) universe take time to travel through time, and that the speed at which this metatime allows changes is proportional to the size of the change being made!
INTERESTING ASIDE: One cool thing we get from this theory is that a more minor change Marty made in 1955 could’ve affected him while he was hanging out there, and it’s a shame he didn’t put any money in a bank account when he was there because midway through his week in the past he could suddenly discover that he’s rich!!
INTERESTING ASIDE 2: some of you are probably saying “Wait when Marty watches himself it’s the Lone Pine Mall instead of the Twin Pines Mall he remembers, this ruins the theory!” but ACTUALLY, it only strengthens it. One of the first things Marty does when he arrives in 1955 is kill a pine tree, and that minor ripple had a full week of real time to arrive in 1955. When I said earlier there are TWO ripples, I was simplifying: each change actually gets its own ripple, which propagates at a speed dependent on the magnitude of the change. This makes sense as soon as you realize that changes are obviously a spectrum, and not just “major” or “minor”. When Marty arrives in 1985 again it’s already changed from what he’s remembered in minor ways, in the process of changing in more major ways, and will change more over the next few hours as everything stabilizes into the new normal.
INTERESTING ASIDE THE THIRD: the fact that Marty isn’t altered as the timeline catches up with him is something we’ll deal with down the road, because it raises some timey-wimey issues too!
INTERESTING ASIDE FOREVER AFTER: Whoah I meant to write about a crappy novelization and got sucked up in really rigorous time travel theories, WHAT HAPPENED
Walls built higher as we grow backwards, kisses on the forehead in deep sleep for the last time, I’ll miss you in quiet car rides and empty summer sheets, you were summer. I’ll miss you from outside the cab when you’re leaving, you’re leaving and my heart is spilling out of my mouth, I’m sorry I’m not as beautiful as she could have been, I’m sorry I caught you. I’m sorry I loved too hard sometimes, scars under sleeves and tears in eyelashes, “you cry too much,” and you’re right. Skin swelled around the ring on my finger, a permanent memory in the shape of a promise, I’m sorry my lungs were too clouded to breathe under water, I swear to god I was trying.
The thing is, I’m in love with you. And that’s not something that goes away with time. I don’t want to let this feeling go, either - because loving you is beautiful. You’re beautiful. The way the corners of your eyes crinkle slightly when you laugh, the way you brush your hair back whenever it gets in your face, the way that you close your eyes and dream about the future…I’m in love with every little thing about you.
We used euphemisms like “I miss you” and “I like you” and smiled every time our noses got too close. I was staying over at his place two or three nights a week and met his parents at an awkward brunch in Burlington. A lot of time was spent being consciously romantic: making sushi, walking places, waiting too long before responding to texts. I fluctuated between adding songs to his playlist and wondering if I should stop hooking up with people I was eighty per cent into and finally spend some time alone. (Read the books I was embarrassed I hadn’t read.) (Call my mother.) The thing is, I like being liked, and a lot of my friends had graduated and moved to cities.
Don’t fall in love with me. Or even like me, for that matter. I am not worth it. I am not worthy of your precious time. I’m a confusing girl, wanting to this and the next minute, I want to do another thing. I have a short attention span. I may be talking to you for the mean time but I’m bound to get distracted by people or inanimate objects. My laugh is weird. It varies depending on the level of my energy. Crying is what I do best especially if I have read a touching story or watched a drama. Why would you want to fall in love with a soft-hearted girl? I have a monster in my head too. It eats me alive when I’m in a state of vulnerability and most of the time I succumb to the strength of my monster. My thoughts are pretty ugly during those times. Don’t fall in love with me because I’ll choose books over you anytime of the day or any day of the year. That’s how I am. I fall in love with fictional people more than real people. I can never assure you that I’ll be there to reciprocate the feelings. So, please, don’t fall in love with me.
But just in case, you fell in love with me and I fell in love with you, we’ll work together for our own little story and maybe, just maybe, we can have a happy ending.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes of strenuous climbing, I had managed to drag myself to the final step. The sweat was dripping down my face which had mixed with the tears. My elbows were shredded and blood had coated my forearms. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to climb 87 stairs without functioning legs. Yes, there were 87 stairs exactly because my face had passed each one and I had kept count to remind myself that I never wanted to have to do this again. Also, it’s tough to use your legs when you have a severed spinal cord with three vertebrae completely out of place, two broken tibia and a crushed ankle. The broken leg bones weren’t hurting me since I had lost feeling once the paralysis had set in.
I had finally made it to the top of the bridge. Maybe someone would notice me crawling along this length of road. But no one came. It was early morning anyway. After a few more minutes of dragging myself along the rough asphalt, I stopped to catch my breath. I looked out from the bridge. I acknowledged what a beautiful morning it was, despite my physical condition. After I had rested enough to regain some strength, I hoisted myself back to my raw elbows. I could see the patch of ground way at the bottom from where I had originally crawled.
As I threw myself off again, I’d make sure that I’d land on my head this time.
Call it luck, call it fate, call it random collisions between particles travelling unpredictable paths, call it what you will. Sometimes some things work and sometimes they do not and the only thing that changes from one situation to another is the people involved. Call it luck, call it fate, call it imperceptible differences in the minuscule threads of life’s intricately woven pattern, but do not call it wrong just because it did not work for you.
Life is painted, tainted, stained and warped by those things that work and those things that do not. Life is painted, tainted, stained and warped by those things that work and those things that do not. Reality is altered by the artificial remnants of experience and every eye in this world looks out of a different window. Tell tales of loss, tell tales of sorrow, tell tales of success and tell tales of failure; do not order others to tint their window because it lacks a stain found on yours. The colours are not yours and are not right for you, but the colours are not wrong.
Call it luck, call it fate, call it walking at the same cadence along the same path and still falling behind. You can not blame a person for having longer legs and you can not ask that they cut off their feet to match your stride. Call it luck, call it fate, call it acceptance that it will work for someone else, but do not force them to call it off.
As recently as January of 2014, the Indianapolis Star reported on the odd case of Latoya Ammons, a mother of three children from Indiana. According to her, dark entities caused her three children – then aged 7, 9, and 12 – to be observed with bulging eyes, evil smiles, and strangely deep voices. Close to 800 pages of official records document the case by the Department of Child Services.
According to the Department of Child Services report, medical staff at the family’s physician’s office said they witnessed one of the children being lifted and thrown against the wall without anyone touching him.
The report also includes many accounts from both mother and children stating they had been attacked by ghosts and visited by spirits in the night. Ammons’ two sons exhibited violent behavior, as well, that involved “growling,” choking one another and head-butting their grandmother.
Nonetheless, the case reached its tipping point when, according to hospital personnel that apparently witnessed the act, one of the sons “walked up the wall backwards” and “flipped over and landed on his feet."
Both the family physician and investigating police officers have stated that their experiences with the Ammons family has turned them into believers of the paranormal.
“You love me too much,” you say, eyes like ghost towns, drunk in the idea of leaving me. Flashback to November, smoking cigarettes on your porch in that pea coat, snow is melting and freezing and melting again- I love you too much.
Andrea Gibson wasn’t kidding when she said “I never want to write our breakup poem,” because tonight, I’m writing ours on a napkin in my car outside your bedroom window, and it feels like glass in my fingertips, heart under the break peddle waiting to crush when I drive myself home. But I’m just fucking sitting here, like maybe if I write hard enough you’ll ask me back inside, saying that I am the things that you love- never too hard, come back to bed, baby. Come home.
If you thought I’d stay this time, you were right. Write a list of the things you can escape with two words, and I’ll crumple mine of things that made me feel three- handing you fourth chances in exchange for sharing heartbeats, tornados of skin, like I hadn’t felt your shape under bedsheets seconds ago. I am restless and you are sleeping, swimming backwards under that dream catcher I bought you to keep your mind safe. All I wanted was to keep your mind safe, believe me.
“You love me too much,” you say, eyes like summer, drunk on the idea of fixing things. Flashback to November, kiss me and tell me again- I love you too much. We are wild birds, I promise you, we will find our way back.
When I was younger I believed colour to be a modern innovation and imagined that colour had appeared in the world like the Technicolor™ spectacle Dorothy woke to find over the rainbow. My parents would speak of events in their childhood and my mind would desaturate the images, turn up the contrast and play out their memories in graded two-tone scenes complete with film grain and light flicker.
I know why I acquired this belief — slide nights of black and white images, hours spent listening to my grandfather mumble curses followed by three minutes of faded 16mm film footage, nights spent surrounded by clouds of nostalgia as aunties, uncles and old family friends watched the monochrome movies of their youth — but more interesting is how I perceived the greyscale world I assumed they grew up in.
A world with softer edges and less distraction, a world not lacking happiness but missing the clarity of full colour smiles, a world where even sounds are muted because synesthesia can only provide different shades of grey to float on musical notes. I saw their world and was glad that I was born in colour. My first cry crossed red gums and my first smile was directed at the blue eyes of my mother. I was glad that my senses were not eroded by grainy rays of a world lighted with no hues. I am glad. But only on the mornings I do not wake in that world of old and find myself numbed to the vivid full spectrum of life.
There are days that can last for weeks that can last for months where I see in full colour yet feel like I exist in black and white. The gradated glow that coats the sky with the rising sun affects as little as a fingerprint smudge on a pencil sketch. The rainbow parrots that visit with twilight look like underexposed screeches impatient to be gone. The creases that form when I smile segment my face like cracks in an ageing tombstone. There are days that can last for weeks that can last for months where I feel like I exist in black and white, made worse because I remember that I was born in colour.
I try to find “yes” or “no” answers to open-ended questions but cannot apologise for black and white responses because guilt comes in deep purple waves and remorse wears an orange hat.
I try to explain, but describing in grey that I lack the rainbow is like photocopying Da Vinci.
People are colourful. I just hope they have not faded when my colour returns
We outnumber our enemy by a large margin. They tried to wipe us out, but we moved faster than they could.
The struggle has been ongoing for years now, we gain ground and lose ground, especially now that the enemy has discovered how to quickly eradicate us.
My wife and children joined me in battle, but only to see them crushed to a pulp and burned to greasy black smudges; the enemy has gotten more efficient at killing us with new inventions and weapon systems.
We have to eat more than the enemy, our bodies atrophy faster than theirs, and we lack the firepower that they tout as unstoppable.
I want to leap past their shoddy barricades, look them dead in the eyes, and scream and tell them that they are nothing, they will lose, they killed my family and i will kill theirs.
But all that I can utter, as I join my army’s ranks and shamble towards the alerting gunfire is, “Brains, brains”.
Is it possible to fall in love with a stranger? To that person that you always see pass by the coffee shop you love the most? To that person that sits at the same seat in the library every afternoon? To that person that likes to take a nap under the shade of a tree near the soccer field? To that person that you only see in the hallway when the hour hand reaches 5 in the afternoon? To that person that you sat beside during the bus ride on a certain night? To that person who helped you pick up your books when you stumbled down the stairs because you’re in a hurry? Is it possible to fall in love with a stranger? I don’t know, really. But I do know that I want to take my chance with Fate.