What I Would Tell My Younger Self

You’ve been given one-time access to a time machine to visit your younger self. After a brief pause, you know the when and the where, hop in the machine and take off. When there, you chat with your younger self but offer one piece of advice to him/her that you hope will change his/her future for the better. Start with your arrival in the time machine (and what does your time machine look like) and end with your arrival in the future noticing something that has changed.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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132 thoughts on “What I Would Tell My Younger Self

  1. imnotokay

    Hopping out of the fairly large red time travel machine that just transported me back to 2010 when I was only 8 years old. I can see myself swinging in the backyard on one of the two swings that would in a couple years time break and catapult me into the emergency room. I look so peaceful, almost like I cannot be touched. I was, and still am, quite short for my age so I figure the height of the swing gave me a sense of empowerment I’d never experienced before. Although I’m watching my younger self it still makes me feel like a creep so I call out her, or mine I guess, name causing her to shriek.

    “Hi. My name is the same as yours. Mine has just been juggled around longer,” I responded with a heartening grin and a slight chuckle, “but I am not going to indulge in my story because you will end up living it anyway.” I fall back into the swing next to the 8 year old me, gripping the two rubber lined chains holding the swing up. She only stares back at me with her wide, curious blue eyes that accentuated her platinum blonde hair surrounding her face. She stopped swinging the moment our name left my mouth.

    “I really wanted to let you know that in a couple years a whole lot of drama is going to break out between who you believe are your best friends and it isn’t going to pretty. When I was you at this time I got way too attached to my friends which caused me to become extremely heartbroken when it could have been avoided. You don’t need to surround yourself with a big group of people to be happy. It isn’t worth it.” I’m giving her serious nods while I speak hoping she understands how important this will be to her in intermediate school. It scarred me and I want to do whatever I can to change it.

    One look into her beady eyes and I realize I’ve been speaking to an empty void. I can almost hear myself echo of the hollow skeleton of 8 year old me’s head. With a heavy sigh I get up and walk back over to the red machine I arrived in. She still hasn’t spoken a word and she continues to sit on the swing with beady eyes. “I really have been speaking to myself,” I giggled lightly as I pressed the bright blue button for present time.

    Immediately when I get back I feel a large weight taken off of my chest and after a long while I finally feel at peace. She actually listened? She probably was pretending to be zoned out so that the “stranger danger” would leave her alone. That sounds a lot like me.

  2. Mizuwolf

    I stepped out of the silver sphere, eyes straining to see past the overly dramatic smoke screen. I’m pretty sure that the head scientist, Dr. Hales, installed a fog maker into the time machine just to add a little flair. The smoky haze made it hard to make sure that I had landed in the right time, much less the right place. I tripped down the steps and felt my feet hit soft grass.

    “Grass is a good sign,” I mumbled to myself, still waiting for the smoke to clear.

    When I could finally see more than ten feet in front of myself I found that I was indeed where I needed to be. The duplex that I had lived in for probably almost five years, from the age of six to ten, was sitting no more than fifty yards away. I walked up to the door and knocked. Younger me wasn’t supposed to answer the door, but younger me was also way too curious for her own good.

    I actually remember this moment very clearly, my older self visiting and giving me advice, but I can’t remember what I said. It was one of the requirements for participants in the trial.

    “You must have distinct memories of visiting yourself so that we at least know that you’ll arrive,” Dr. Hales had explained, “If there is a good chance that you make it, there’s a good chance you will return.” The logic had seemed sound right up until the moment I’d actually stepped into the machine and felt it start up, but it worked.

    “Who is it?” Younger me asked, opening the door just enough that I could see her-my- maybe our (?) eye. I knew that my mom was out that night and my little sister was already in bed, so I didn’t ask to come in. That would be way too suspicious and younger me’s paranoia would override her curiosity.

    “I’m you from about ten years in the future,” I answered. Younger me would be a little sceptical, but I’d always been fascinated by the idea of time travel so she wouldn’t leave.

    She narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips, “How do I know that?”

    “You have a super big crush on that kid Gabriel. so you never call him Gabe like everyone else, you secretly read till at least one o’clock every night, and you always just observe people when the get mad instead of actually listening to what they say.”

    “How did you know about my reading?!” she gasped, “Mommy hasn’t even found out!”

    “I told you, I’m you,” I replied in a matter of fact way.

    “Why are you here?” she asked quietly, like she was suddenly afraid of waking up my sister, “Do you need something from me?”

    “No,” I replied with a small laugh, “I just wanted to tell you that someday your life will change and you won’t like it, but change isn’t a bad thing. Change brings new possibilities and new friends. And this last bit is super important, are you paying attention? It’s okay to cry and ask other people for help. You can always count on your friends and family.”

    Younger me blinked at me and then nodded. I nodded back and she stepped back into the house to go to bed. I climbed back into the time machine and pressed the big green button on the dashboard. Nice and flashy so you can’t miss it was how Dr. Hales had put it.

    The machine rose into the air and then flashed out of the timeline. It stayed in the free fall for a minute or two before jolting to a stop in what I assumed was the present day. I climbed back out of the sphere and found Dr. Hales standing at the bottom of the steps.

    “How was it? Do you notice any changes from when you left?” he asked immediately. I looked around at the lab testing area and shook my head, everything looked exactly as it had when I left. “How about psychologically, do you feel any different?” I shook my head again and he cleared me to leave.

    It didn’t occur to me until that beautiful moment of enlightenment just before you fall asleep that something did feel different. I smiled as I realized that the ever present ache in my chest, presumably from holding my feelings in all those years, was gone. I could finally remember what I said to myself.

  3. Annayce gibson

    My one and only chance to fix my life, i have been working on my purple with blue streaks time machine. It’s finally ready for me to go back into the past. I sit strapped into the leather seats contemplating the year i should return to, and i decide to go back to year 2013. That’s the year that my whole life changed, i hit the date November 17 2016, it feels like forever has passed until the machine jolts to a stop. I returned to this day, because its the night my best friend shot himself. When i get out of the time machine im standing in my moms bedroom, somehow i landed the time machine in her closet. I walk out of her room and head for mine. I hear voices as i slowly walk twards the door, i feel my stomach knotting as i get closer. My mom opens the door and its as if she doesn’t see me and keeps walking, i hear my younger self laugh at something as i finish opening the door. Younger, longer haired me looks up and almost screams, i put my hand on her mouth and say i came from the future. she shakes her head and i take my hand away, she walks over and closes the door. She asks me why i have come to talk to her. i looked i her and told her to come sit down, and i walked over and sat on the couch. i then started by teller her that she should call James. She looked at me funny, but grabbed the phone. She called James and the first thing she here are the words ” i cant do this Anna.” She then tells him how wonderful and great he is, and she talks him into putting the gun down. i also warned her that our mom has cancer, so have our mom go get treatments. i return to moms room and jum in the time machine and type in year 2017. it again feels like forever for it to return back. when i get out im back in my lab. I look in my phone to see my mom and james’ names with phone numbers. i call both and arange for us to meetup. I am fin ally happy and can see a bright future ahead of me.

  4. RWriting

    I open my eyes. No one told me I should close them, but I didn’t want to show up in the past feeling sea-sick. I am standing in my childhood bedroom and it’s exactly how I remember it. Seeing the past allows me to notice the small differences that have taken root in the room over the years since I last inhabited it. I turn to face the door and instead find a tiny, scared face staring at me.

    “You… you look like me?” she stutters.

    “Hi,” I figured being up-beat would probably be the best way forward. “I look like you because I am you from the future.”

    “Like Trunks in DBZ?”

    I laugh, past me still has so much to learn. “Yes, like Trunks.” Was I really that small once? “I’ve come to give you some advice about the future.”

    “Do I need to do something to save the world? What is it? I’m ready!”

    “Uh, no. Just thought I’d help you out with some advice to make your life a bit easier.”

    “You travelled back in time to give me advice? The world is fine?”

    “Well, I wouldn’t say the world is fine, but that’s just politics for you. I wanted to give you advice about friends and fitness and your career.”

    “Why?”

    “Uh, well, because by the time you’re my age you’ll be a lot further in life. You’ll have wasted less time on being disappointed, and angry, and hurt.”

    “Surely that all defines who I am to become as a person. I’m strong enough to handle everything life has to throw at me, evidenced by you standing in front of me right now. People might hurt me in my future, but how am I to learn who to trust if I take the easy way out? I might face disappointments, but how am I ever going to appreciate my successes if I never experience the opposite. I am interested in what happens in the future, but only from the perspective of a story: if I am to still live that part of the story, I would prefer no spoilers please.”

    I stand and consider this person in front of me. She’s naïve about the world and what it will do to her, but she is still strong, and she is right.

    “I understand,” I begin. “Allow me to give you a different piece of advice then: never stop being yourself.” And with that being said, I flip the dial on the time machine on my wrist, keep my eyes open, and go back to my own time.

    Nothing has changed in the future, except perhaps me.

  5. PeaceLoveWriting

    (Note- I’m not doing it about myself for privacy reasons)

    After a long day of work, I was very tired. Being a costume designer for Broadway was not easy. I checked the time. 10:30 PM. I knew I had to stay up if I wanted to keep this job.

    So I sluggishly walked into the kitchen, staring at my iPad I had bought for practicing sketches. I opened one of the cabinets, reaching for the coffee. Once I grabbed it, I got my coffee pot and started to get it ready. I kept gazing at my latest creation for “The Wizard of Oz”. The coffee maker did its little jingle, and I perked up from my trance.

    I don’t know about you, but I have to have half and half in my coffee. Otherwise, I just can’t have it. Except if it’s Starbucks. Starbucks is another story. I opened the fridge to everything but what I needed, let alone food whatsoever. Instead of my food, there was buttons and wires everywhere, and the fridge now looking more like an elevator. I curiously stepped in, and saw a PIN pad, with a message.

    It read: “Welcome. Please enter the date you would like to travel to on the PIN pad. Thank you and enjoy your ride.”

    What? I could time travel? Now, where to go…

    I finally set on my 12th birthday, May 19, 1992, and entered it into the pad. A shaking noise startled me and I felt the elevator going down,
    down,
    down…

    I started to get motion sick, and got nausea. The vomit started to crawl up my throat, along with a terrible migraine forming. And as soon as it started, it stopped.

    I exited out of the time machine, and was in my almost-12 year old self’s room. Oh, and did the memories start to flow. I started to go giddy, and finally decided to wake up myself.

    “Gisela, wake up,” I cooed.

    “Mom, I don’t wanna, it’s Satur- who are you?”

    “I’m you, in 2016.”

    “What? How? But-”

    “Hush child,” I sang. It was sorta funny to say that to my younger self. But it felt good. Like I was in charge.

    “I’m not a child” she stated.

    “That’s not why I’m here, child.”

    Younger Gisela flushed red. “Then why ARE you here?”

    “To tell you to never give up on your dream to go to the Culinary Institute of America. You must do it.”

    She started to talk but I interrupted her.

    “Just a few rules. One, you are not to tell ANYONE about this conversation, for with our future technology they would never believe you. Two, I won’t see you ever again in the past. And three, always remember what I said. Now, I must go. Good luck in the future to you.” I saluted and left through her old dollhouse.

    I put in the date, December 24, 2016. On the way back to the future (*wink wink* If you see the pun I put there), I thought of all the wonderful things from the 90s. I fell asleep in the time machine, and woke up in a bed, with a Jack Russell dog in my bed with me. In my old apartment, I couldn’t afford a bed, so I slept on a couch. And I never had a dog. My phone rang, which was a newer model, and I answered it.

    “Hello,” I asked cautiously.

    “Hi girl! Its your BFF, Karina! I was wondering if you could come to the US this summer?”

    “Come to the US? I live in the US.”

    Karina answered playfully, “How could you forget about your bakery opening in Italy? How’s Paulo?”

    “Who’s Paulo?”

    “You must really forget everything,” Karina answered, “He’s your dog.”

    And it hit me.

    Since I had traveled back in time, I had changed the future. And I loved it.

    “Sure Karina, I’ll start looking for plane tickets ASAP.”

    Karina giggled, “Yay! Gotta go, so bye for now!”

    I smiled. “Ciao,” I whispered into the phone, and hung up.”

    I looked in the mirror and said, “Thanks Gisela. Thanks so much.”

    And off I went to work.

  6. Daniel Morales

    I wrapped the small device around my wrist that looked like and Iphone watch. and input, time, date, and geographic location.
    “Be sure to close your eyes. Traveling through time and space may be a little scary and confusing, it’s important you do not get distracted.” Dr. Marla Frost said with her soft cool tone.
    “I won’t” I said as I closed my eyes.
    “I’ve timed it for five minutes, any longer and you could risk disrupting the timeline.” She said.
    Suddenly I felt like I was being pulled away, but I wasn’t moving. Like force was pushing me through some type of vortex
    After I stopped moving I opened my eyes to see me sitting on a bench. In front of me I saw me at 16 years old being shoved to the ground by two bullies. I don’t remember their names of course I wasn’t the most popular in high school. They laughed as they left the younger me picking up all the books from the ground.
    “Don’t worry kid, one day, you’ll learn how to stand up for yourself.” I said
    “Who are you?” He asked.
    “I’m you, ten years from now.” I said if that shocked him, he wasn’t showing it and I knew why. I was a huge fan of Science fiction back then and always told myself that if they ever invent time travel, first thing I’d do is see myself.
    “What are you doing here?” He asked.
    “Giving you a little bit of advice, writing is your passion, it’s like an escape for you, don’t give up on that.” I said.
    “Why would I give up on that?” He asked
    “Because life is only going to get harder. No one is going to believe in you and as a result you won’t believe in yourself, you won’t graduate, you won’t go to college, that’ll make you a very bitter person, soon you’ll turn to drinking to cope with your failures and end up being a government project because no way sending a drunk back in time could ruin the timeline. People are going to tell you that you don’t have what it takes. Don’t believe them.” I said then felt my watch beep. I closed my eyes and felt that same pulling feeling.
    When I woke up, I wasn’t in my own apartment, but a much nicer one. Suddenly the phone started ringing. I answered it and it was this woman.
    “Dan, hi, it’s your favorite agent Sheila I scheduled your interview with Writers Digest for 9am today, so get ready.” She said.
    “Writer’s Digest?” I asked confused
    “You bet, aren’t I the best?” She said, I’ll see you in my office.” She said as she hung up.
    I looked at my bedside table and saw a book. The author was me. Time Traveling phantom the title read. I couldn’t help, but smile.
    “You did it kid.” I said proudly.

  7. Mr.Philip

    I was in my laboratory, trying desperately to make my blueprints mathematically sound. But nothing seemed to work. “I will never make a time machine,” I thought. It was just too complicated to put time into our limited three spatial dimensions. But in my frustration, I looked up, and saw a machine of beautiful and intricate design standing in front of me. It had a sleek chamber, made of steel, supported by three metal legs that stood firmly on the ground. A hissing noise escaped the machine. A slow, heavy door started to roll open on the side of the capsule.
    “Who goes there?” I asked in confusion.
    But to my surprise, out stepped me! Or at least a legitimate imitation. It looked exactly like me, except perhaps a little older.
    “Hello, sir,” he said. “I understand you are having a little trouble with your designs. I can help.”
    “You can?” I asked in disbelief.
    “Yes. I have sent myself back in time, from the point shortly after you made the machine, to give you this.” He handed me a grey briefcase. “In this briefcase you will find a complete blueprint for a fully operational time machine, along with the mathematical proofs. I would give you this one, but of course I must be getting home. There are more adventures to be had in the intricacies of time! Farewell, comrade! Good luck on your invention!”
    And without another word, he stepped into the time machine, and quick as a flash, was gone.
    I looked inside the briefcase in astonishment. Inside was a picture of an exact replication of his time machine!

    That was two years ago. I have just completed, with the help of the blueprint graciously sent by my future self, the world’s first time machine. Now I must go back in time, as he did, to give the blueprints to my past self. With my help, nothing will stand in his way, and he will create the time machine standing in front of me now.

  8. EL Drayton

    When I exited the phone booth, located near my mother’s job, the city of Manhattan was buzzing with hundreds upon hundreds of people coming and going. The sun was blazing down upon me as I used my hand to shield my eyes from its rays, looking around till…ah, there I go, standing by a hotdog cart while my mother ordered us some to eat. I’m spinning around in the sun, feeling the warmth on my bare arms. At any moment I’m going to collide with a planter that’s near a seating area. I make haste to the seat near the planter and wait patiently till—
    “Whoa, sorry,” I say, looking up into my eyes. She knows who I am but isn’t frightened.
    “Don’t think, just do whatever your instincts tell you to do. Otherwise you’ll just remember what you didn’t do and miss out on the great things that are going to happen to you. Do you understand?”
    She nods her head at me. I’ve always been a bright child, but I had her repeat what I said twice for good measure, and before our mother turned in our direction I took my leave back through the phone booth.
    Once home I noticed very little had changed from when I left it, until I got home. Instead of living alone I heard singing. A lullaby actually. For some reason I wasn’t concerned or frightened that I was being burgled. Instead, I walked into my bedroom to find her, pacing back and forth with a set of babies in her arms. She turns and seeing me in the doorway she strategically puts one finger up to her lips to ensure my silence as she continues to sing the lullaby, gently placing them in a crib cramped into the corner of my small bedroom.
    Once they are down she comes over to me, puts her arms around my neck and gives me the best kiss I could ever remember receiving.
    “We’ve really got to get a bigger place babe,” she whispers into my neck.
    “I think you’re right,” I reply as I close my eyes and thank my young self.

  9. crbates

    The schoolyard really looked smaller than it did 31 years ago, but the run-down store behind it still manages to make me quiver when I look at it. They are why. The onlookers who are there watching now—not intervening or calling anyone to intervene. They are just watching. Before reality television, there were schoolyard fights. And not just any fights where two youngsters were evenly matched and the rules of engagement were understood. There were these fights. Fights that existed when one girl from the run-down neighborhood where the run-down store sat clearly had the upperhand and had a specific code of conduct: (1) no one could sit next to her best friend Marcy during music class (2) a new girl should not laugh at the PE teacher’s corny jokes, and (3) no girl, new or not, should ever ask her boyfriend if he could point her to the pencil sharpener. These were her rules. I must have violated all three on the same day, so here we stand now. I, with my bookbag dangling from my left hand and my eyes diverted from hers, have no idea how to respond to her blocking me from leaving the school steps. “You’re gonna get it,” she says to me. I look into the crowd that has gathered around us as if they knew just what time to show up. Then I notice the onlookers at the store behind us. Adults, who do nothing to stop what is about to happen. Not even a yell from afar to knock it off. This is the moment. This is the moment I came back here to change. She drops her coat and books to the pavement and moves in toward me. Though I had never hit anyone and never been hit, I somehow know to prepare for an attack. I withdraw and cover my face. My dad just bought me the new glasses during his visitation weekend. But this time, before she can pounce and break them, an adult emerges out of the crowd and scurries up the steps to stop her fist from making contact with my chin. It is the adult me. We’re now eye to eye. I want to scoop her up from the schoolyard and take her back to the future with me, but the best I can do is say to her, “Life will get better quickly. Don’t worry so much.” She smiles our quirky smile and rushes to the blue Mustang, now waiting in the parking lot. Mom sold in the late 80s for a few thousand bucks. I touch my chin and notice it no longer has the indention that has been there all these years. The scar has simply vanished. I watch as the Mustang disappears over the railroad tracks. All of a sudden, I kinda miss that old car.

  10. pvenderley

    MESSAGE

    “I’ve had 30 years to rethink what this message should be,” Dr. Sundahl murmured. “To recreate my Watson moment. ‘Fine job.’ ‘Congratulations’ — although I doubt that would fit. ‘You did it.’”

    He then spent the next minute in silence, concentrating on condensing his spidery handwriting onto the 1 cm x 2 cm strip of Ekarad Vellum pinned to the table.

    The doctor dropped his stylus with a deep sigh, then wrapped his arthritic fingers around the pin holding the paper slip. He said: “I realize now that ‘Hello’ conveys all that. That one word with today’s date justifies the 25 years I’d slaved away creating a means to map a sliver of space and time. Justifies my obsession. How I treated my family. Everything.”
    It took the doctor ages to remove that pin from the wood, ages to slide the paper off the edge of the table. An eternity to slip it through the time capsule’s port, lightly wrinkled and with his message showing through the clear lucite top of the capsule. Another to carefully flip the port latch into position and lock it. I would have helped him at any stage (I did open the port latch while he’d been fiddling with the pin, which got me a sharp glare), but Dr. Sundahl had impressed upon me that this was the culminating act of his years of research and experimentation, and he meant to do it himself.

    He peered into the edge of the capsule where the curved lucite magnified the micro-engraved time-stamp so it could be easily read, even by his rheumy eyes.

    I said: “Oh! I haven’t mapped the time coordinates yet.”

    He flapped his hand back and forth in front of my face.

    “No need. I’ve got them already.”

    “Sir? When did you…”

    “32 years ago,” he mumbled, although I hadn’t quite heard him.

    Dr. Sundahl had connected his old peta-deck to the time computer. I hadn’t thought much of that then. Time coordinates take a considerable amount of data, and we were rapidly running out of storage, so I’d figured he was making do with any old peripheral.

    He entered the current timestamp index, then the destination timestamp index, pressed confirm, and… well, it’s hard to describe what happened next. It felt as if the room bent inward just a little bit, before bouncing back. Like a taut piece of elastic. Just like that, the piece of paper was gone, and Dr. Sundahl’s face lit up with a brilliance I had never seen. He began to whoop, and cackle, and do a little shuffle with his feet. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’d been trying to dance like Doc Brown in that old classic, ‘Back to the Future’? You know the scene, where he finally sends the DeLorean back to its own time?

    “How do you know it worked, sir?” I asked.

    “How do I know? Because I feel it!” The word “feel” rasped through his throat like vibrant sandpaper.
    “Losing my family. Losing the respect of my peers. All of it! All justified by that piece of vellum infused with unbinillium, time stamped with this very date. I just gave my former self all I needed to make it to this day.”

    I scratched my head.

    “Um. Well, that’s good, but we can’t put that into our paper. Your ‘feeling’ won’t pass peer review.”

    Dr. Sundahl chuckled. “Of course not, of course not.” He collapsed into his chair as if the previous moment’s exertion had drained him of energy. He flapped his hand at me. “Go ahead. Map the time coordinates.”

    I checked the seal on the time capsule and applied the vacuum. Once we verified the space within the box was a void, I set the computer to map the box’s molecular boundary and apply Dr. Sundahl’s algorithm to tie the data map to specific time coordinates down to the nano-second.

    “Do you want to write this message as well, Doctor? For posterity?”

    I watched the computer chug through its mapping program. The process would take several minutes.

    “Doctor?”

    Dr. Sundahl sat folded over in his chair, a beatific smile affixed firmly to his face. The medical doctors would later pronounce the cause of his death had been a massive failure of multiple organs, and marvel that he had survived for as long as he had.

    This is the part that I don’t tell the doctors, or the investigators, or even the research heads. Shortly after I had realized Dr. Sundahl had passed away, a burst of light surrounded me.

    I turned around to see the time computer calmly informing me that the time’s coordinates had been mapped, and to a slip of paper in the time capsule.

    “Doctor?” I asked, forgetting for that moment that he’d just passed away.

    My eyes flitted to the edge of the slip. The time stamp was barely visible, and it took me a moment to realize that I was trying to read a date hiding behind a wispy layer of smoke and ash. So I turned my head to look at the message itself, scribed in big block letters across the small slip.

    “DON’T!”

    Now: what do you suppose that means?

      1. pvenderley

        Thank you, cosi. Quick question: do you believe the story could stand on its own without the ending, or did it seem like a procedural cobbled into place so the ending could exist?

    1. Beebles

      The word that sprang to mind reading this was mature, in that I felt in safe hands. I really enjoyed the detail and the flow. I will need to reread to get the full nuance but it will be a pleasure.

  11. jhowe

    I shield my eyes as she lifts the hatch and light assaults the dank space.

    “You smell like a pig, Gary,” she says.

    “It’s good to see you too, Marcia.” She throws down a laden paper sack and two bottles of water, my provisions for the day.

    She sneers and says, “Your friend, Steve is great in bed; one of my favorites. You should have taken lessons from him.”

    Her words don’t faze me anymore. This bothers her. She used to be able to get to me, make me plead. She slams down the hatch and I open the sack and take a bite of the sandwich. The bread is stale and likely full of mold. I’m thankful for the darkness for a brief time.

    This is all my fault. I was married to Sheila, who I met in grad school. Marcia and I had a mega break-up after dating all through high school. Marci, the cheerleader, the prettiest girl in the class, the one I couldn’t trust. Sheila, the sensible one, sweet, innocent, non-flamboyant. I should have been satisfied. Marcia was bad news but I missed the excitement.

    And then came Dr. Kling, the astrophysicist, my doctoral advisor, the innovator. “What would you change, Gary? If you could go back.”

    As it turns out, I could go back. I should have said I wouldn’t change a ding dang thing. I should have made a good life with Sheila. I spend my hours now contemplating. I’ve concluded Sheila has no recollection of me at all and I’m at least thankful for that. I hope with all my heart she is happy.

    There’s a sound from above, scratching, something heavy being dragged. The hatch opens. It never opens twice in a day. A figure drops and I barely manage to move out of the way. The hatch slams shut and there is a moan in the darkness, a male voice. And then panicked breathing, shouting, crying.

    “Stay calm, Steve,” I say. “I learned long ago that it doesn’t help to yell. We’re out in the boonies here.”

    “Gary?” His voice is shaking.

    “Marcia’s not looking so good now, huh?”

    “She told me you left her, moved to England.”

    “I’d rather be in England.”

    “I think my arm is broken,” Steve says.

    I slide over and carefully unknot the ropes around his hands and ankles. I feel along his forearm and conclude he’s right. I’ve never set a broken bone before but I do it and he screams. I use the ropes to wrap around and around his arm to stabilize it the best I can. I should feel bad for him, it wasn’t his fault. And he is my friend, I should want for his safety. “I’m thinking of something flat and smooth,” I say, resorting to a childhood game we once played.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I am totally intrigued by this, especially the last sentence. The thing I’m thinking about is a knife, and the game, well we called it ‘Territory’. But on second thought, I think you are far too young to have played that. Gripping story of lament. But with both of them down there, there might be a way of escape, at least I hope so.

  12. Iodine

    This was the one and only chance to fix his life. That was made clear from the first time he’d heard about the trip. He was going to go back in time, give himself a letter, and then head back. At first, he wasn’t really sure what to put in the letter. He’d made lots of mistakes, and perhaps he didn’t want to fix them all. Mistakes were what made the human species, and they weren’t always bad. He didn’t want to effect too much, only wanted to make everything easier for himself and his family. The doctors gave him a day to prepare everything, including the letter. It was a close shot, but he managed to be there on time. Once he’d given the place- his middle school, and the time- 7:35 am, August 23rd, 2013, he was allowed to step into the machine. The machine was a rather crude looking version of what he could only describe as a ‘box’ with wires everywhere, but he had no other choice. He’d signed up for this, and it was too late to go back now. There was a flash and suddenly he was there. His old school looked just as he’d left it just a few years ago, and there he was. The only one there. He’d been a strange child, arriving before anyone else, including all of the teachers. He’d decided on this time and place because he’d been alone, and middle school was where it had all started to go wrong. He headed towards himself and handed the note over. “Take this to heart. I worked hard on it.” There was a very light tone to his words. Without another word, he turned back to the machine and stepped inside. For a moment, he watched as his younger self opened the letter and began reading. Another flash and he stepped out to find himself in the same place he’d been before. The only thing that was different was himself. He knew more, and his outfit was different. It was very similar to what he used to wear. He smiled as he stepped out of the machine, thanking the doctors. His letter had simply said to completely focus on education, and that social interaction came second to learning. That, and one other thing. Of course, there was a downside to knowing more- he had more trouble with people than he had before. That was something he could live with if it meant that he could do what he’d always wanted to do- discover something new.

  13. Kerry Charlton

    NATASHA IVANOFF

    THIRTY THOUSAND EMAILS

    PART SEVEN

    [Part 1 -6 on my blog kerrybcharlton.blogspot.com]

    As Doug’s crippled F16 limped across the sky toward Denver’s airport, he continued to lose altitude. Worse than that, Natasha lost consciousness from her wounds despite all her efforts to stop the bleeding.,

    Bill, can you hear me?’

    “Of course Doug.”

    “Natasha’s fainted, it doesn’t look good. I’m going to increase speed to 600, drop to eight thousand and make one shot to the runway.”

    “Are you sure you want to do that?”

    “It’s the only way she’ll make it, she needs immediate care before she bleeds to death.. There’re assembling a small hospital in the terminal to save time.”

    “Go for it,” yelled Vince, “that’s great idea and good luck”

    Denver airport replied, “We have a lock, at ten miles, I’ll notify, drop back to three hundred. At five miles, drop to landing speed. You’re cleared to come in dead stick if necessary. Ambulances and doctors already at the field.”

    The F16 roared toward the airport at a thundering speed, Doug’s handling of the plane was masterful, even so he used all but three hundred feet of concrete before he managed to stop with a side skid that almost flipped the aircraft.. At the last moment the nose wheel collapsed, sparks flew everywhere but no fire started.

    Opening the hatch, medical personnel treated Natasha with transfusion and oxygen. However her heart suddenly stopped. Two doctors used a heart defibrillator and shocked her to a feeble beat. Vince had climbed a front end loader on the opposite side of the doctors and talked in her ear quietly, After twenty minutes, her vitals were strong enough to transport to the nearest hospital.

    A doctor by the name of Don Adams rode in the ambulance with Vince and two nurses,

    “Clinically, I thought she wouldn’t make it when you were whispering to her. What did you tell her?“

    I told her I loved her, would cherish her and could out run her and swim faster than she could. I’d figured she make it just to prove me wrong.”

    “Well obviously you stirred her up.”

    “I know I did, I‘ll have hell to pay when she wakes up.”

    “I seriously doubt that. She’s a real beauty and her will power, well you’ve seen a sample.”

    “Seriously doctor, how long will it take her to recuperate?”

    “Less than two weeks. The wounds aren’t that bad, she almost died from lack of blood, not the injury. I‘m tempted to asked you something.?

    “Let it rip doctor.”

    “Have you and your girlfriend personally started WW III? You’re all over the news.”

    “It certainly seems like it the last two days, however you will be sworn to secrecy by the military.”

    “I realize that. We’re using the service entrance to the hospital to shake the reporters. I just want to say, God Speed and good luck to you while we’re in a private talk.”

    “And I thank you for your medical skill, I’m sure I speak for, for …………..”

    “Natasha’s the name son, in case you forgot. They briefed us before your plane arrived. That was quite a landing, I am a retired colonel in the air force.”

    “How about paying some attention to the patient.”

    ‘Thank God you’re awake Nat.”

    “Oh, I‘ve been listening for a minute or two. Is Doug okay? I blacked out before we landed.”

    “If not for Doug, you wouldn’t have made it Nat, he‘s fine and on the way here by car..”
    “I had the strangest dream Vince, you wouldn’t believe how unusual.”

    “I’d like to hear about it. but right now we’re pulling up to the hospital and I’m sure you’ll be very busy. I won’t leave your side love, until we can talk“

    “She‘s out again Vince,” Dr. Adams said. “I’ll make sure you can stay by her side. We don’t want to lose her now.” . :

    .

  14. thedishevelledwriter

    Where am I ? Did it work? Should have told him the other place. At least I could go and eat at that restaurant. Why is it so smoky in here. Will it work? I Feel dizzy.

    VOICE: You will be fine ma’am,

    ME: Who are you?

    Voice:- just the machine ma’am, I make sure you get back and forth safely. We are almost there.

    ME:Where?

    VOICE : Right where you wanted.

    I stepped out of the elevator quite uneasy.

    Oh, wait this place is not supposed to have an elevator. It’s that dark corner at my college. Oh, my god! Is that me? I suddenly started feeling conscious. This was just 2011.Wow, She is pretty. I had never thought that then. Half a decade ago. Why is she sitting here? I go over and tapped on her shoulder. I hope she doesn’t scream.

    ME: Oh hey!! Don’t freak out !! it’s me.I mean I’m you in the future.

    Her: Yeah WOOOOW. Wait? What ? Am I unconscious? My god,this is awesome.

    ME : No it isn’t. It’s hard to explain. I just came to fix a few things.

    Her: Fix? Fix what.?

    ME: I mean it’s just you. I can’t do anything about anyone else. You know things

    HER :So tell me. Why are you here?

    Gosh, she is rude!

    ME: You know that boy you are dating.You should probably stop. You should probably start working on some design. Everyone around you has been doing work. Trust me. This is a great opportunity in your pocket.

    HER : How come you look so different? Put on weight? Eating too much? Too successful?

    ME: Listen to girl , I don’t much time.!

    HER: Ok fine!.. Look I kinda know am gonna be fine. At least I’m alive

    ME: About That.

    I don’t think any advice will work on her. I knew it would come to this. I took out the letter from my pocket and gave it to her. I had penned down one in case I couldn’t tell her everything.

    VOICE: It’s time to go back.

    I started walking to the elevator door. I don’t think she heard it

    SHE : Are you are going?

    ME : You’ll be okay. ! Don’t worry. But read that letter and follow it .It’s important

    I got into the elevator with a heavy heart. But it might just be the last chance. The smoke does not bother me this time.

    I felt things poking me, tubes. Prayer chanting. All I could manage was to take a sharp breath in . Alarms went off, people scrambling everywhere.

    She never believed me. He had ruined her. Should have picked a year before. Now, what’s the point?

    I see smoke again.

    “It’s good to see you, “ said a haunting voice.

    I turned around. Oh, my god! Where am I ? Is that him. Maybe it isn’t such a bad place Afterall. I finally found him after all these years.

  15. sridhar231

    Dr. Scott Mele didn’t look like a typical scientist. He wore business attire and sported an expensive tie. He greeted me with a fake smile, but with seemingly genuine interest in my visit. He was going to help me to meet my younger self. Yes, I was going to undertake a time travel. We spoke the day before. He asked me to come prepared with a clear idea of where (actually when) I wanted to intercept myself.
    “Do you have the date and time?” Dr. Mele asked.
    “Yes, please take me to 2.30 PM on Sep 12th, 2002.”
    “Any significance?” he didn’t hide his curiosity. I find that odd for a man who has mastered an impossible feat.
    “Dr. Mele, you will be the first to know when I return.”
    “Fair enough, Mr. Williams. Shall we proceed?”
    I nodded.
    We came out of his office and walked towards a room that looked like a lift. It was small enough to hold at the most two people. There were large appliances on all four sides that looked like lamps. Dr. Mele explained that these are laser equipment to enable the travel. He didn’t elaborate and I wasn’t concerned. I can’t wait to meet the handsome Ted.
    “The entire trip will be completed in fifteen minutes. You can see him but cannot talk to him. Any such attempt will nullify the travel and you will be back here.”
    “Understood,” I accepted.
    “OK, Good luck, Mr. Williams” Dr. Mele was getting ready to turn on a large switch.
    “Thanks Dr. and please call me Ted.” I was getting really excited.
    The doors closed and I was surrounded by complete darkness. Hey, what happened to those lamps?
    Lights came on, but I was not in the elevator. “What is this place?”
    Yes, I remembered. “Dr. Mele is a genius. He has done it.” I was in a company lobby. It was indeed Google’s office before they moved to Mountain View. There he was. Sorry, there I am. I could see him approaching the building from the parking lot. What a sight! I had so much hair and the formal shirt he was wearing didn’t hide the well-toned biceps and triceps.
    I took out the envelope I brought with me which read, “You will be offered the job today. Accept it without hesitation. This company will be worth half a trillion dollars in ten to fifteen years and you will be richer beyond your dreams. Once again, don’t accept Yahoo’s offer, the one you got yesterday.”
    I sealed the envelope and walked towards the lobby. I requested the lady to hand it over to the gentleman named Ted who will be there in about five minutes.
    Then, I entered the restroom and opened a small device and pressed “Now” as was instructed by Dr. Mele.

  16. Kerry Charlton

    BACK INTO THE PAST

    My interview with a mad scientist wasn’t unusual during my work week. Being

    chief operating officer of the largest patent attorney‘s office in Washington, left me little

    choice but to interview most of the weird-o, case propositions. In front of my desk, sat a

    small helicopter like device with one small seat in it. On the outside were whirling radius

    objects that sped so fast around the small machine, sounds of what might be gun fire,

    exploded in my office as the whirling objects broke the sound barrier.

    “Enough already, you should hear this with my hearing aids on,” I said.

    The cute blonde operator dressed in a silk tee shirt and toreador pants opened the

    porthole,

    “What about it Mr. Charlton, want to see yourself again when you were twenty.?”

    “I don’t take dares without being serious, Judy. Move over on that seat if it’ll hold

    two people, I’m coming aboard.”

    “Are you sure your heart can handle a trip through time?”

    “With your beauty lass, if I can handle that, I’m up to the ride. I’m not quite ready

    for the trash can.”

    “Now don’t take this as being forward, Mr. Charlton, but the seat is so small, I’ll

    need to sit on your lap to close the command center. Do you have issues with that?”

    “Not on my part. It’s strictly up to you. You are familiar with mechanical

    operations of lift aren’t you?

    “Sounds interesting to me, I’m closing the hatch. Oops, sorry about brushing your

    cheek.”

    “It seems to me, you could manage to keep your personal equipment in order.”

    “I’m trying, you can only do so much with a pair of 38’s.What time period?’

    “Late fall, 1955, University of Miami campus.”

    “Here we go, hold on tight.”

    “I would but you have my arms pinned to my side.”

    “Oops again , I need to adjust the seat handle, it’s under your right leg. Just a

    minute.”

    :”Take all the time you need Judy, I’m not in any hurry.”

    “Thank you for being polite. I think I finally reached the handle.”

    “Judy,”

    “What?’

    “Are you sure that’s the handle your looking for.“

    “Oh it isn’t?’ Let me try again.”

    “Judy, start this contraption already.”

    “My but you’re anxious, Mr. Charlton. I wouldn’t disturb you for the world

    unless it was absolutely necessary from a safety issue.”

    “Okay, Judy, I’m in your hands, but you can forget about me worrying about

    anything, I’m just along for the ride only from a business standpoint, don‘t you see?”

    “Got it sir, cleared for take off.”

    “So am I.”

    Smoke and noise filled the room, the plaster on the walls cracked from the heat

    and then the machine disappeared. Three weeks later with not a sign of the time machine,

    Miss Bristle , Charlton’s executive secretary filed a missing persons report. Then a

    telegram surfaced from 1955, with faded writing,

    As Miss Bristle opened it, a smile erupted across her craggy brow,

    “Hello Bristle, having a wonderful time, be back in the spring. Find that worthless

    son of mine and put him to work again. Tell him his bonus will be a six week trip with

    Judy, I’m not selfish about sharing things, especially with junior. Oh yes, and order six

    more refills on my prescription.”

  17. Critique

    If Only We Knew

    Grant felt tremendous pride and terror as he stood quietly looking at the gleaming structure in front of him. A marvel of science. The Seventh Dimension – a time machine. The Seventh Dimension resembled a diminutive silo suspended on a metal crisscross platform with a set of stairs leading to its narrow door.

    The official scanned Grant’s identification card. “Dr. Grant Alberni your watch please. Sorry sir, it’s not allowed.”

    “I forgot.” Grant’s sweat slicked fingers almost dropped the minicomputer watch as he handed it over.

    Information was punched into a computer and the door of the Seventh Dimension whispered open.

    “Follow me.” The official standing guard at the top of the stairs said.

    Heart pounding in his chest Grant mounted the steps, ducked his head under the low doorway, and entered the time machine.

    Grant knew where to position his feet but needed help strapping on the harness attached to a low bar in front of him.

    “The harness prevents you from falling should you get dizzy.” The official said and pointed to a button on the remote attached to the harness near Grant’s chest. “Push this button and the preprogrammed journey will begin. Push it a second time and it will abort the journey.”

    “Good luck Dr. Alberni.” The official said. “All set?”

    Grant nodded, swallowing the bile rising in his throat. There would be no aborting this mission if he could help it.

    The next thing Grant knew he was standing beside a swirling dirty brown river. He swung around when he heard giggling. Astonished he saw sixteen year old Meagan and her friend Edith lounging on a picnic blanket.

    “Oh this is so exciting.” Meagan squealed. “First one to swim across the river and back gets to drive me home in my new Ford Mustang.”

    Next to them, Milton, his best friend began stripping down to his underwear.

    “Grant don’t be shy.” Edith batted her blue eyes at Grant.

    Sudden terror ripped through Grant’s chest as he watched Milton stride towards the river.

    “No. Milton.” Grant hollered and ran after his friend. “Don’t.”

    He tackled Milton from behind and pinned him to the ground.

    “Hey, let go.” Milton squirmed angrily under his friend’s weight.

    “Milton.” Grant panted. “I don’t care about the car and you can have Meagan.”

    Milton grew slack and Grant rolled to his feet.

    “I don’t know what you’re up to but this isn’t over.” Milton stomped back towards the girls.

    While Milton pulled on his pants the others watched, mesmerized, as a tidal wave of water, logs, and debris swept down the river flooding the banks on either side. They barely had time to scramble to safety as their picnic lunch, blanket, and the rest of Milton’s clothes swirled away.

    Milton slack jawed, eyes bugged out, looked at Grant.

    Inexplicable pain hammered through Grant’s chest and his pressed his hands over his heart.

    “Dr. Grant Alberni thank you for taking part in the Seventh Dimension.” The official shook his hand. “We look forward to your report along with your colleague Dr. Milton Sears.”

    In a daze Grant descended the steps and looked up to see a smiling distinguished man standing off to the side. Milton? Milton who drowned decades ago when a flash flood swept him away?

    “I think we have more than enough material to work with.” Milton approached him, a wide grin on his face. “This review could be our watershed.”

    Grant let the tears fall as he hugged his startled friend.

    “I have a story my friend. I’d put good money down it’ll be a best seller.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh, this is a grand story, Critique. Has everything it needs to be published as flash fiction. It has suspense, young love, the idea that going into the past, can change history and the saving of a close friend.

    2. jhowe

      I loved how Grant appeared into the past, and then back again with no explanation from the author. None was needed. Excellent job of showing and not telling. The words were so simple and so compelling. Great job.

  18. dustymayjane

    Blinded by the lights, I froze in fear. My feet wouldn’t move, my shoes were like cinder blocks. The commotion and noise emitted from the craft overhead disoriented me and for a moment I had fallen onto my knees, unable to stand. An updraft pulled at my clothing and hair. Dirt and sand whirled around me and stung against my skin and in my eyes. The craft hovered several feet above the ground, churning the trees and bushes of the woods around me.

    Tucker began barking as the craft descended on us. Now the poor dog cried and whined. I was certain the high pitched whirring was painful to him.

    “Tucker, come here boy. Tucker!” Tucker leapt into the woods and I was left to the mercy of whatever was in that maniacal machine.

    I pulled my sunglasses from my pocket. I was still being stung by flying debris and dirt but I could see now that the craft was a circular shape and appeared to be a liquid form, not quite solid, as one would think. It lowered to the ground next to me and as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared. In its place stood a man. A duplicate of me, if I could believe what I was seeing. I removed my sunglasses and rubbed my eyes.

    “Hey Dave. It’s me, you, from the year two thousand seventy nine. We’re seventy eight years old and our life has been nothing but trouble and hard times. Ya gotta do this one thing for us Dave. So listen closely. If you don’t get this right we’re in for a lifetime of sorrow.

    There were a thousand questions I needed to ask but my voice was lost. I couldn’t utter one solitary squeak. My mind whirled at the impossibilities of what I was experiencing. How? What? How again?

    “Are you going to remember this time?”

    The me look-a-like, was aggravated and I related to his familiar tone. It really was me! I was impatient, easily aggravated by circumstance out of my control and at the age of seventy eight, it doesn’t appear I’ve changed much.

    “Well?”

    “Ya sure, I’ll remember. But what’s making this possible? What do you mean, this time?

    “No time for that. Are you listening?”

    “Umm…ya, okay go ahead.”

    It’s Super Bowl Fifty One. The year is two thousand seventeen. The Minnesota Vikings are going to take it all the way this time. Place your bets wisely.”

    I looked at my future self disappear as he’d appeared. It all seemed rather familiar. The Vikings? Two thousand seventeen was just around the corner. No way will I forget.

    Turns out my memory sucks.

    Sixty two years later Dave visited himself one more time. Just maybe he’d remember.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Gad! What a disappointment, not the story but the memory. My favorite thought about time machines was to go forward a day and write the winning numbers down from the mega lottery’s. With my luck, I write the numbers wrong. The last sentence is an absolute killer.

  19. thejim

    Once again, I sat with blood, like warm, soft velvet, covering in my hands. It felt thick, and it started to become sticky. I stood up, and looked down at my victim. A part of me always feels sorry for the last expression on their face. I closed their mouth and shut their eyes.

    I climbed out of the hole, and began to fill it with dirt. With each shovelful, I was rejuvenated. I know it would take hours to fill; I wouldn’t be home until early morning. I stopped off at a local campsite to shower and dispose of my clothes.

    Sleep came almost as soon as I laid down in my bed.

    I woke up at about three in the afternoon and as I sat on the edge of my bed, I gazed at the device. No matter what I say to my younger self, I could not break this cycle. The conflict that continually rages in my head is deafening. The effects of Zydone were wearing thin. I needed a drink.

    I finally came up with a solution. Since just warning my younger self was not enough and the whole paradox if I kill the younger me then I won’t be alive to go back and do it so that is out of the question. However, I think I had a solution.

    I flipped the switch and set the dial a week before my 13th birthday.

    Within seconds, I stepped out and make my way to my old street. I have my roll with me, now I just had to wait.

    Everything looked the same, but was slightly different, sharper, maybe. The sky took on a turquoise hue. Maybe it is the Zydone.

    I saw my old red Schwinn bike approach with the young me peddling so fast.

    “What the H#!! do you want again?” I said to me as I rode up on the bike.

    “I have something for you; I think you’ll like it.” I opened a leather roll that contained an assortment of knives and cleavers. I knew I would love it.

    I stepped off the bike and came closer to inspect the roll.

    Before I could touch it I folded it up and said “Come on, we don’t want anyone to see this stuff.”

    We headed out to a small field out behind the Johnson’s little farm.

    I laid out the roll and my younger eyes were wide with awe.
    This time when I reached for it, I grabbed my young hand and with my largest cleaver cut off my hand at the wrist. Immediately the clever fell to the ground I looked at my own missing hand. I forgot to grab the other hand first. I picked up the cleaver with my other hand and stepped on the arm of the younger me. I looked over to see my young face in shock. I grabbed his bleeding arm and tucked it under my armpit, and wrapped it tight with the towel, and then I chopped off the other hand. I gathered up my cleaver and knife roll with my stubs, picked him up on my shoulder, carted him to the Johnson’s place banged on the door, and took off.

    The next day I awoke in my room and looked at my stubs. That night I placed my artificial adaptors on my wrists the left one was large razor sharp pincers and on the other stub was a surgical steal knife.

    Maybe if I were blind, I wonder if that would stop me.

  20. AlaskasOwn

    All the years that I had before me then, were behind me now. Looking back, I had full awareness of the path of joys and sorrow that could lead me from the past to the present. With such knowledge, I knew the true value of time and how once spent, could never be returned. That is what I had thought until the opportunity came before me. With mastery over time, even for a moment, I had the power to change a life.
    I had a single chance to go back and alter my own life. Wasting it would be an act akin to sin and so I had to be sure about what single moment of my life could do the most good. It didn’t take long. I knew what I had to do.
    Raising my wrist, I twisted the knob turning the second hand on the watch to three minutes prior. I nodded my head with satisfaction and changed my mind about using the time machine just before I used the time machine. I learned the first time that sometimes, things are best left to be.

  21. Anna

    Hello all.I am new to this whole story writing concept. I tried writing a story based on the prompt given. Please read my story and give your honest opinion and suggestion.I apologize profusely about the length of the story.

    “Happy birthday Annu” He said and handed me a beautiful red rose and a greeting card.
    I felt special whenever he called me Annu. I had a lot of other nicknames too. The names he chose to call me depended upon his mood. Whenever he was happy he called me Bells,Bellu mostly in B’s. Whenever he was preoccupied he plainly called me Annabelle. Amongst all I liked Annu the most. I don’t know the reason though.
    “Thank you Rob” I said, forcing a smile.
    My birthday had been a doleful day for me ever since I was 12. It has been 16 years. But still that incident stands in my mind so vivid like it happened yesterday.
    “Should you go?” I asked.
    “I know how difficult it is for you but I must go honey. I have this important conference today. I surely can’t turn it down. I’m so sorry Bell”
    I didn’t reply .I just stared down.
    “I’ll come sharp at 4 ” He said and planted a soft kiss on my cheeks and left for office.
    I checked the time. 9.30 am.
    I didn’t do much after he left. I toasted two slices of bread. I did laundry. But whatever I did that incident was flashing again and again in my mind. I became distressed. I tossed 2 sleeping pills into my mouth.
    Then lying on my bed I opened the greeting card which Rob gave me .
    He had written something himself .It said,
    “Anna, when I first met you in the orphan age I knew at once that you were the right one for me. We both sync perfectly. I didn’t know what it was to be around a family before I met you. You complete me Annabelle.I feel blessed to have a wife like you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.”
    I couldn’t hold my tears back.I took my phone and texted “I love you.You complete me too.Ty so much for the lovely words” and sent him.We both hail from the same orphan age.After half a minute my phone beeped
    “I know.luv u too.Be ready at 4.We are going out. ”
    I smiled and dozed off.

    Suddenly I was in a strange place. Everything was pitch black around me except for the path which I was walking on.The path was glowing golden.I kept walking.I couldn’t think of anything.I don’t know for how long I walked but I kept walking until I heard that voice.
    “How long are you gonna go like this?”It asked softly.
    “uh…Who are you?”
    “Life goes on and on like this path .Doesn’t it, Annabelle?
    “Who are you?Where are you ?How do you know my name?”.
    I was frightened .I turned round and round but I could see nothing except blackness”
    “Calm down Annabelle.Listen to me carefully.”
    I kept quiet.
    “Do you want to apply brakes to your never stopping life?Do you want to revisit your past? ” the voice asked slowly and steadily.
    I closed my eyes.That incident flashed before my eyes. Tears rolled down my cheeks one by one .
    The voice continued .”Your craving to offer a piece of advise to your younger self.Am I right or am I right?”
    Suddenly an excruciating pain struck me.I opened my mouth to let the pain out.The salaiva stretched in between my lips.
    “Y…E…ye..s” I stuttered.
    Everything became quiet.I couldn’t hear the voice anymore.The utter scilence kind of freaked me out.I opened my eyes.Strangely I was sitting somewhere.It was like A confined box.No windows,no doors.I didn’t feel suffocated though.There was a screen and a set of buttons below the screen.On the top of the screen the words ‘TIME MACHINE’ was flashing. Below the words ‘time machine’ it asked for the date
    Without thinking I entered today’s date but with a different year.
    ’15/8/1996′
    Everything became blurred.
    I was in a place that was familiar for me.
    “I asked for a Barbie doll not a pencil pouch” I heard my voice.
    “You already have a lot of Barbie dolls Anna I wanted to buy you something useful “said my mom, so soft and tender.
    “No!. Everyone hates me. Why don’t you make me happy at least on my birthday?”Annabelle said angrily and started crying.
    “I love you so much Anna baby……understand…you are growing up” said my mom soft as silk.
    Annabelle went inside her room ,shut the door and started crying badly.
    I followed her. I saw Annabelle.
    “Hello “I said to Annabelle .
    “What? Who are you? what are you doing in my room?”She asked.
    “I’m your Barbie doll.” I said.
    “Really? truly? but you don’t look like one. “she said.
    I took her on my lap. Her eyes were glittering. A little tear drop was about to make its way down to her cheeks. I wiped them.
    “Annabelle. Never hurt ma ok?”
    she was busy playing with my long hair
    “Annabelle, I want your mom to be with you on all your birthdays. Happy and smiling. You are the only one left for your mom sweety.Take good care of her. You can never imagine how hard it is to be without her “I said.
    Both of us were silent for some time.
    I was nostalgic and she was confused.
    “Accidents happen …”I murmured.
    “huh?”She asked innocently.
    “Annabelle goes and stops your mom. She is getting ready to go out and buy you a Barbie doll. Please ask her to stay at home with you.”
    “Why?”
    “Because I want to be your only Barbie doll.”I said giggling.
    “Ok barbie”She said happily.
    “Annabelle, never let our mom go.”I said.
    I heard a sound suddenly. The sound was familiar. It was disturbing me.I struggled before I finally opened my eyes and switched off my alarm.

    “Oh it was all a dream! Only if the dream were real “I said to myself.
    I glanced at the clock.3.30 pm.
    ‘That’s a lot of time. ‘I said to myself.
    I went to the living room.
    “That was a very long nap Anna darling” someone said from my back.
    I knew the voice. It was my mom’s voice. I couldn’t think of anything. I turned. There she was. My mom. Smiling at me. She appeared only a bit older than the last time I saw her. I wanted to say a lot of things, ask a lot of things. Millions of thoughts flashed in my mind in a millisecond.
    I couldn’t speak anything. Ask anything. I hugged her and cried so badly.
    “S…or…y m…a” I stuttered.
    I never let her go until I heard a door bell.
    “It’s almost 4 Rob should be here. I can’t wait to laugh and cry in his arms”I thought.
    I opened the door in excitement. There was an unfamiliar person standing with a laptop bag in his hand. I was very disappointed. I was expecting Rob. I was dying to see him. Brushing all my thoughts aside,
    “Yes?” I asked.
    The stranger smiled and said
    “Are you ready to go out Annu?”
    ———————-THE END—————————–

    1. jhowe

      Welcome to the site, Anna. I really liked your story. The concept of your character’s happy life with Rob, her going back to save her mother, and then ultimately loosing Rob in the process was fun to read. I found it intriguing that the stranger called her Annu at the end, like Rob would have.

      You had a few issues with punctuation and spacing that became a little distracting, but that’s easily fixed. I think if you wrote in Word or something similar, perhaps, the mistakes would get pointed out.

      Nice first appearance here, Anna. Keep writing and read the stories on here. I learned a lot by reading the work of others, though I have a ways to go yet. You will see that in a story this short, it’s best to leave out everything that doesn’t move the story along. It’s hard to do but it makes a difference. Cheers.

      1. Anna

        Hey.Thank you so much for your suggestions.I’m really glad that you read my story.Yeah the punctuations and all.I’ll definitely work on it.Please free to comment on my story.I would like to improve my story wrting skills here.Thanks so much once again.

  22. igonzales81

    Get Back Up

    I picked a Corvette.

    I don’t know why, it just seemed…cool. I could have gone with something practical like a Honda or something cheap like a Kia. But in the end, I decided if you’re going to make a time machine, why not make one that screams of self-indulgence.

    I took it out for a test drive, back to a memory that’s always bothered me. I know I had a pretty happy childhood, but there were a lot of things that I could have done differently. One in particular stood out at that time.

    Maybe it was because of the trouble I was having at work, that uppity guy from marketing getting under my skin with his passive-aggressive attitude. I just felt the need to hit something. In one time or another.

    So I ended up standing on the other side of a chain link fence, staring at a school playground. Third-graders were everywhere, sporting rat tails and tie-dye. I cringed inwardly at the naiveté each era displays.

    It was easy to spot me. I was off to one side, idly walking along the fence, lost in my own world as I so often was. I knew that most days I would be there, on the outside, too self-absorbed to even think about looking in. I didn’t regret spending my childhood that way. The trouble was that others couldn’t let me do it.

    It was also easy to pick out Desmond and his toadies. Never memorized their names. Didn’t want to. But Des…well, I saw enough of him, spent enough time at the nurse’s office because of him, that he kind of stuck with me.

    I walked along the fence, slowly enough that I wouldn’t interfere with the start of things, fast enough that I could get there before the end.

    It started quickly. Des came up behind me—I never even heard him, thinking of slaying dragons or flying spaceships—and one shove later I was in the dirt. That was never enough for Des though; he was well into the name-calling and kicking at me by the time I walked up.

    My presence brought things to a screeching halt.

    I just stared through the fence for a minute, taking in Des’s sweaty, red face and the rising bruises on my pudgy arms.

    Then I squatted down, and caught my gaze. “Hey, kid,” I said softly. “I know this happens a lot. I know you hate it when it does. But there’s something you can do about it.” My looks was a mute question. “Get back up. Maybe he’ll knock you down again. Maybe you’ll knock him down. Doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not you keep getting back up.” I smiled. “Even if you can’t be them, don’t let them beat you.”

    I stood up and walked away as I climbed to my feet. I heard the yells and grunts and the sound of fists striking flesh.

    I climbed back into my Corvette, enjoying the new memories I’d gained.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Boy oh boy how many times i could go back and face the bullies better than I did. One in particular was named Terry. Strange that even moving away after college I kind of kept up with his antics. One time many years later I picked up the Miami Herald and Terry was on the front page. By that time he had suffered with face cancer of some kind but he still taught school, wearing a large mask over his face to disguise the horror he had to live with. And I reaized the small petty things I had remrmber about him. Obviously I missed some of the better sides of him. To this day, it bothers me about Terry. You’ve written a beautiful rememberance, handled in a perfect. unkown way. I loved the story.

  23. Bilbo Baggins

    GETTYSBURG, PA
    JULY 2, 1863

    I awake in the bottom of a cart bed, a grungy 1860s outfit on my chest. A leather arc fills my vision and hides the machine. Near my eye is a crack of daylight. No time to waste. Get changed quickly, rehearse my lines. I step out onto the seat of the supply wagon and secure the tarp behind me. Father really did think of everything.

    Two brown horses stand at the end of the reins. I’ve only ridden a horse once. Luckily, they step off with a gentle tug. Most likely he picked the tamest horses in the state.

    The wagon’s on the side of a gently sloping road. Trees and rolling hills on all sides. I listen carefully. In the wind I can hear cannon fire to the north. A wagon train’s coming up behind me. I fall in with them, and no one’s the wiser.

    A half-hour passes in silence. Eventually, flat fields and artillery parks come up alongside the road. A couple guards are standing next to a depot. One’s checking the driver’s papers, the others lean on muskets and smoke in the thin air.

    As I get closer, the guard asks “What’s in the cargo?”
    Even after all my training, I’m still practically shaking. His searching blue eyes seem so real- he is real. And yet, chances are he’s been dead over twenty years.
    “Ammunition from Hagerstown.” I’m trying hard to stay in my unrefined accent. “Goes straight to the Fifth Corps.”

    The guard corrects me. “The Fifth Corps isn’t in action. You’re to report to Colonel Williams on Cemetery Ridge.”
    I hand him my papers. “I think you’ve made a mistake.”
    He doesn’t read it all, hands it back. “I don’t know who wrote this, but he has the number wrong.”
    I didn’t anticipate resistance. I hastily stuff the papers away. The other soldiers consider the argument amusing.

    “Joe, maybe the man’s right. He knows our orders better than we do,” one laughs.
    Joe silences them with a look.
    “That’s ridiculous. Sir, Quartermaster Riggs has ordered us to divert all ammo to the Third Corps. And until you can prove to me otherwise, I’m going to have to search the wagon.”

    Joe heads for the back, disappearing from view. I jump off the seat, starting to panic.
    “Look, soldier, I ain’t no Reb spy, if that’s what—“
    The guard turns, his hand inches from the tying rope.
    “I’m not accusing you of that. But you have no say in going over my superior officer.”
    I scramble for words, anything.

    “Look, sir, there’s no need to search. Just let me go before we waste more time. Wagons behind me are getting held up.”
    Joe looks at the others. He walks around me, his musket hitting my shoulder.
    “Alright. Get a moving. Now.”
    Without further small talk, I leap onto the wagon. The horses break into a trot.

    I try to remember the map… up the left, over the ridge. The wagon bounces over rough grass before climbing among tall pines. Cannons boom- a heavy twelve-pounder zips in from the sky before hitting a tree a mere hundred feet away. A rake of musket fire resounds to my right. Within the day this whole valley will be destroyed.

    After fifteen minutes or so, a camp comes into view. Soldiers mill around tents, cooking one last meal. A band tries to lighten the mood. I catch a few of their faces- my father’s not to be seen.

    A young man rushes up, glances at my papers.
    “Is this the 44th New York?” I ask.
    “Yes. Thank God you’re here. The Rebs are just moving in.”

    He goes away to report to the colonel. I move the wagon behind a thick grove of trees. In the right horse’s saddlebag is a change of soldier’s clothes. In the left, a musket, cartridge box, and canteen. I climb into the back and change again. This time, I power up the time machine for its destination. I still have a little over two hours.

    Enough time to blend in with the regiment. And, I hope, save my life.

    (I know what I would tell my younger self- to not stop doing these prompts! It’s been over a year, but the hobbit’s back at last. Miss me much? 🙂 This story continues a time-travel narrative I started over two years ago. It skews the prompt slightly, but a second part will hopefully bring it together. The first part can be located under “You’re Not Really Human,” at the top of the third page.)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You really have me hog-tied and hooked, Anything connected with the civil war, the most terrifying event our country had suffered through. The writing is tight, suspenseful and keeps the reader on the edge of his seat reading it. Welcome back Bilbo, I can’t believe it’s been a year. Time passes fast when you’re writing here.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, Kerry. I love writing about the Civil War as well. It really has been too long- I was planning on getting back into the prompts around New Year’s but luckily had some time last week. 🙂 Still pretty busy, but I’m not going away this time!

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Glad you have time to write here, again. Like Kerry, I’m hooked. This is a great beginning, looking forward to more, don’t quite get the directions to part one,

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, the comments mean a lot. As for Part One, you can access it on my blog, but it’s probably a ways down. Here’s more detailed directions on how to get there:

        -Use the tab Weekly Writing Prompts and find the prompt “You’re Not Really Human.” It should either be on the third or fourth page back.
        -Part One is on the very top of the third page of the prompt. You get there by scrolling to the bottom of each page and pressing “Older Comments” twice.

  24. UnclePizza

    Having honored the prompt with my first post, I will not proceed to completely ignore it!

    Of Sins and Ash: Part 15 – Statue

    Ever since he had come to live with the priest, the boy had been fascinated with the statue of the man nailed to the crossed pieces of wood. There were smaller cross statues around the rectory, including one in the room where he slept, and many people also carried them strung around their neck. He had even seen people kiss the smaller statues, especially the one that the priest wore. But the statue that stood behind the altar was the one that fascinated him the most. It was big: the man was as large as the priest, and because the large crossed beams were held up by an iron stand, the man’s feet were nailed to the wood at eye-level to the boy.

    The statue itself was made of a dull brown metal – the priest had called it bronze – and it was realistic in its appearance. So realistic in fact, that the boy kept waiting for it to come to life just as the statues that the old woman had made always did.

    The bronze man was held to the crossed wooden beams with nails, and there were long branches of thorns twisted around his head. These were unlike any thorns that the boy had ever seen, each one being as long as his finger. They were also shaped of metal, and the ones that were not sticking into the statue-man’s head were filed to a sharp point.

    Still, despite the pain he must have been in, the man on the cross looked like he was at peace. Or so the boy thought, for the man’s head was tilted slightly upward, and although the boy had spent hours gazing up at the statue, he could never quite see the details of the face.

    Now, the boy knelt in front of the altar as the priest prepared the small pieces of bread and the flask of wine. After he had gotten over his surprise at how well the boy could speak, the priest told him that the best way to prepare for the possibility of death was to receive what he called sacraments. First, the priest had poured some water on the boy’s head and made the speaking noises but they were ones that the boy did not understand. Next he asked the boy to tell him if there were things that he had done that he was sorry for, but the boy could not think of any so the priest simply smiled and told him to repeat a “prayer” with him three times.

    Now the priest stood at the altar and made more of the unusual speaking noises as he prepared the third sacrament – the one he called “communion”. As he watched the priest make the strange noises and prepare the communion, the boy was reminded of the old woman preparing one of the statues that she made of sins and ash.

    No sooner had he thought of the old woman than he felt her presence outside the church and he grew excited. Patience, she reminded him, so he calmed himself and looked again at the statue as the priest went about his tasks. The light from the tall candleholders on either side of the altar reflected on the statue-man’s smooth metal skin in ripples that made it look like he was actually moving.

    Soon, the priest told the boy that the bread had been made into the body of his god, and the wine into his god’s blood. He gave a small piece of the “body” to the boy but it did not taste any different to him than any other bread. Next, he gave him a sip of his god’s blood. The boy had tasted blood many times as he grew up with the coyotes, and this tasted like no blood he had ever had before. Nor did it taste like anything he had ever drank before. As he swallowed it, the boy felt a slight warmth rise from his belly. He could not help but remember how the old woman/raven/coyote told him that the blood of the priest’s god would mix with hers to make him complete.

    Suddenly, the raven flew through an open window and landed on one of the tall candleholders that lined the aisle. She was joined by a large group of coyotes that filed in silently through the open church doors. The priest stood rigidly behind the altar and pointed at the raven, shouting, “You! You are not welcome in the house of God!”

    As the coyotes began to howl, the priest took the odd wood and metal object from his belt and pointed it at raven.

    —————————————

    The full story to-date (parts 1-15) can be found in one posting at https://unclepizza.wordpress.com/of-sins-and-ash/

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I really liked how you linked communion with what the woman created, sins and ash, indeed. I fear for everyone in the next installment. Great job continuing this, and I do look forward each week to the next one.

  25. keldonalleyne

    I looked up at the mouth of the cave accompanied by eleven other monks, collectively holding the second most complex creation of the universe. This would be the conclusion of my years of searching for myself, losing myself and then finding myself over and over again.

    Before entering I took one last gaze towards the sun that bathed the Tibetan desert behind us, and observed the tire tracks left by our Jeep that would be lost within minutes to the forever changing face of the sands.

    After ten minutes of walking through the damp cave our intuition had led us to a suitable dwelling to reveal the time machine.

    We sat in silence for three minutes and then began a meditation to prepare our minds for our travels. Each of us had a pivotal point in time to meet our younger selves – a time that was not of our choosing. The walls of the cave began to whisper its secret chant:

    `Om Sat Chit, Ananda Parabrama`

    Colours beyond imagination, and sights beyond comprehension began to overwhelm me. My sight became both complex and simple. The palms of my hands were throbbing with energy, pleasure, and an overwhelming vibration that took over my senses until I were death, blind and numb to this world.

    My mind’s eye opened up and I was seven years old. I could see the world through the eyes of my former self at the appointed time and inevitably the appointed place.

    It was my birthday and I had been waiting all month to play my new video games console.

    With a calm excitement I carefully unwrapped my present and was mildly disappointed to find it was the old model that did not have the spectacular visuals of the new machine. With further calm I opened up the boxes of the games and read through all of the manuals.

    That was my former youth acting, but I rested deep in his higher consciousness waiting for my moment to tell him the truth.

    I played a game for ten minutes and took a break, but upon returning I noticed that the game I was playing appeared and felt different. To make sure I played it again and again, but each time I could come to only one conclusion:

    “The game is exactly the same, but the way I am experiencing it has changed.”

    My moment had come to share my short message: “what you see is not what is, but a reflection of it through the misty lens that is coloured by your experiences. Reality is up for debate, pursue always your desire.”

    I awoke in the cave.

    A few of the other monks were already awake, sitting – like myself – in a mild state of euphoria.

    My past had changed. The world remained the same. But my past had changed. My memories were altered by the awareness I had injected into my past experiences and world had suddenly become much more brighter.

  26. UnclePizza

    I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday. It was seventy-five years ago, and my parents had bought a new refrigerator and they gave me the big box that it arrived in. Nancy from next door had come over to watch what the delivery men were doing, and once she saw my box she asked if she could play too. Sure, I said, and we took it to the basement along with some crayons, tape, scissors, that kind of stuff.

    With me being eight and all of two years older than Nancy, I was in charge as always. So of course we “decided” to build a time machine like I wanted instead of a princess’ castle like she wanted. We spent the whole afternoon cutting, coloring, tying, and taping. Oh what fun I had!

    When we finally finished, it was obvious that only one of us could fit inside at a time, so we would have to take turns using it. Nancy wanted to go first but of course since I was in charge I chose me. What was the point of being in charge if it didn’t mean I always got my way, right?

    Well, a funny thing happened as I sat in the time machine waiting to get sent back to see the dinosaurs. Through the porthole I could see tears on Nancy’s cheeks even though she wasn’t making crying noises. At first I thought that she was being silly but then I remembered how her shoulders always slumped a little when I told her we were going to do what I wanted, never mind what she wanted. And as I thought about it, I realized that it was that way a lot. OK, all the time. So I decided to try something different for once. Just to see.

    I came back out and Nancy asked what the dinosaurs looked like. I told her that I didn’t know – that the time machine didn’t work. I made a big play at fine tuning the dials and told Nancy to try it now.

    “Really,” she asked, beaming the biggest smile I’d ever seen on her. “I get to go first?!”

    “Yeah,” I said. “And don’t forget to yell loud at the dinosaurs so they leave you alone.”

    Nancy climbed into the time machine and for the next several minutes all I heard was giggling and shouting at dinosaurs to keep back. It was a lesson that, looking back on now, I’m surprised my eight year-old self could grasp – that giving someone else their way could make me happier than getting my own way. From that day onward I always let Nancy pick our games and I always let he go first.

    We were married the month after Nancy finished high school and a different time machine took over as first years and then decades sped past. Nancy always made me promise that when the time came she could go first. I promised, even though I knew that I could never bear to be without her. And last week I kept that promise, which is why I’m down in the basement now with a big box, crayons, string, the works. I need to build another time machine so I can see my Nancy again, and oh lord, I really need this one to work.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a very lovely, and moving story. At first I feared Nancy was going to really travel, I’m sooo glad you didn’t take it in that direction. Just great.

  27. Kerry Charlton

    Hello everybody. I wrote a story called “Into The Past” a little racy but nothing a thirteen year old couldn’t read . Rather than compromise it, I won’t change it. You can read on my blog, kerrybcharlton.blogspot.com and comment here. I think you’ll like it.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, found it! Very funny, and I did look for “stuff”. If the word that stopped the posting was c0ckpit, that’s a stretch. There was innuendo, but can’t imagine that preventing the posting. It was funny and the last was very creative.

  28. Hiba Gardezi

    I’m greeted with an ‘AHHHHHH!’
    The brown eyed seven year old quickly stands up and a dirty mango seed falls out of her muddy hands.
    ‘It’s me, its-’
    Her scared face turns into a show of excitement and drama ‘a fairy!’
    ‘What?’
    ‘Yes, yes yes! Are you the same one Nana Jan caught in his car’s trunk once? She jumps with excitement in my grandparent’s lawn.
    ‘No. I’m not a fai-’
    ‘You’re not?’ She frowns ‘but you flew out of a flower’
    ‘Do fairies fly out of flowers, Hiba?’
    ‘Yes,’ she smiles ‘I saw it in a movie. Are you a bad fairy or a good fairy?’
    I shake my head but can’t help smiling. The time machine just had to transport me through a flower. Didn’t it?
    ‘I’m not a fairy.’
    Suddenly she puts a hand on her mouth.
    ‘What’s wrong?’
    ‘You’re not a tooth fairy are you?’
    ‘No-’
    ‘ Eileen! Masud! Sarah! Usman!’ She calls as a group of children run into the garden.
    It’s an eight year old, a five year old, a four year old and a three year old.
    I smile as I look at us. We’ve always been super cool.
    ‘I think she’s a fairy.’
    ‘I’m not a fairy’
    ‘She’s not a fairy the youngest girl’ shakes her head
    ‘She is! The others shout in unison.
    ‘Just look at her. She’s Hiba.’
    Hiba gives her a look ‘I’m here.’
    ‘Hiba,’ the little girl muses and continues dramatically ‘from the future!’
    ‘Oohhh… from the future…. ’The others repeat.
    ‘She’s a smart kid’ I say
    ‘But how’d u come from the future’.
    ‘Through that flower’
    ‘She must be a fairy’ the eldest smiles as her eyes brighten up.
    ‘No, I’m not.’
    ‘She must’ve come with a fairy.’ Masud says.
    The three year old curly headed boy walks to the big yellow rose I pointed to and presses his face against it.
    ‘There’s no fairy in it.’
    Then the older boy says ‘look carefully, Usman . I’ve got a bad feeling about her.’
    He jumps on me and pulls my hair.
    ‘Are you a bad fairy?’
    ‘Did you steal my spy glasses?’ the other boy asks.
    ‘No! No!’ Hiba shouts ‘stop.’
    The children release me.
    She goes and stands next to me.
    ‘Do I look like her?’ she asks her friends.
    ‘Yes’ they all say.
    ‘Sarah’s right,’ I tell them ‘I’m Hiba from the future.’
    The flower starts beeping.
    I have to go now I tell them.
    But wait the little one cries out.
    ‘Stay a while,’ Hiba says
    ‘I have to go’ I tell them. ‘Any messages?’
    ‘Tell Eileen to let me play with her toys’ Sarah says
    ‘And tell everyone ‘Hi’!’ Masud says.
    The flowers petals begin to close.
    I stand before them and say ‘Hiba don’t let the gardener cut your mango tree.’
    With that I jump into the flower and return to the present.

  29. tward09

    As the time machine shudders to a stop, I take a deep breath, going over the memory one last time. My skin breaks out in goosebumps as I heave the latch and step out into the trees laced with fog, sticky and humid in the darkening August evening.

    To the east, trees go on for about three miles until the road reaches a few neighborhoods, the city center, and the college campus. There you will find dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, restaurants, bars, and me, drinking myself into a stupor while believing with all that is in me that I am totally capable of driving. I’m not. To the west, about two blocks from where I stepped out of the machine, stands a gas station. The next six blocks are lined with low-income housing developments and run-down shacks, many of which aren’t home to anyone. One block past the station at 1322 Oak Street, a family of five is celebrating a birthday.

    Cars are parked bumper to bumper along the block, the smell of burgers and hot dogs mixed with firecracker smoke is thick in the air, and songs I haven’t heard in fifteen years are blaring through the sound system set up on the front porch. Children are laughing and playing tag in the front yard while their parents stand in circles and lines against the house, drinking beer and wine, telling stories about their kids while listening to stories about others’. Seeing the party happening at its height, full of laughter and joy, causes my stomach to seize and I taste acid. Everyone is happy, unaware of the horror that takes place in little more than seven minutes.

    I’ve thought my plan through about a hundred times, trying to find a better way to do it. I’ve considered confronting myself, but the scientists warned me that personal contact with myself is out of the question. Calling myself would do no good, because I know how hard-headed and aloof I was as a naïve twenty-something, and I wouldn’t have given a second thought to anyone on the phone. I’ve even considered going to the party and telling the parents to keep their kids out of the street, but then I would let myself run wild forever. No, it has to be this way.

    I walk to the gas station much more quickly than I really need to, but my heart is racing, a mixture of fear and excitement welling up in my head, almost tactile. When I get to the payphone outside the front doors, I drop two quarters in and dial 911.

    “Hi, there’s been a wreck at the corner of Oak and Parham. Someone needs to get out here now!” I try to sound as hectic as possible, but in these situations, the words are all that matter.

    “We’ll have someone out there right away,” the dispatcher replied in an official, no-nonsense tone.

    Three minutes from now, I am going to be speeding down Oak with little to no awareness of my surroundings, just as the game of tag moves into the street. Four children, none older than seven, are going to be killed instantly; one child will lose one of his legs; three other kids will be sideswiped by my truck, needing stitches and a few casts. At least, that’s how it happened fifteen years ago.

    I sprint back to the time machine and throw open the door, staring for just a moment at the supplies I brought. Everything is accounted for. The barbed wire is finicky and I cut myself two or three times wrestling with it, but I get it out with time to spare. I drive one of the ten-inch nails deep into the soil and wrap the end of the wire around it, drag the wire across the road, and let it fall limp. If it gets tangled in my axels I might stop more quickly.

    The low rumble of the truck in high-gear overpowers the distant laughter of the party, and I see myself barreling down the road, lights cutting through the fog like bullets. Was I really going that fast? My heart starts racing again as I get closer and closer to the barbed wire.

    At the moment it hits, it doesn’t seem to do anything, but within seconds sparks fly from the truck’s wheels as the air escapes the tires. The truck fishtails hard to the left, and in an instant it flips, over and over, smashing the cab. A spiral of light hits the trees as the truck spins in the air, and just as it makes its final crashing landing on the roof, my legs drop out from underneath me.

    For a second I’m stunned, looking at the truck in awe, knowing I succeeded without killing myself, when I try to stand up again. I can’t. I can’t feel my legs at all. I punch and pull and squeeze and pinch as hard as I can, but it’s no use. My legs don’t work. It takes me a few seconds to realize what’s happened, but when it comes to me, I begin to cry. No, crying is too weak a word. I blubber, wail, sob. Then I smile.

    Hearing the increasingly loud sirens making their way through town and onto Oak, I crawl back to the time machine and lift myself high enough to reach the handle. When I open the door, I fall clumsily to the floor and pull my legs in after me. I close the door, set the destination to the present, and start the machine up, and I do it with a beaming smile on my face. I’m happy. For the first time in fifteen years, I’m happy.

    1. pvenderley

      I appreciate this story of redemption. You portrayed the MC’s emotional needs and painted the scene well; I particularly appreciated the visual of the truck lights spiraling through the air and the trees, and the timing of the MC losing his legs. Ironically, I can’t help but imagine that seven minutes is too short a period of time for the MC to walk two blocks, call 9-1-1, walk back, drag barbed wire across a street… I understand that the timing is critical — can’t have emergency services arriving which you’re setting up the trap, but you don’t give yourself the time for introspection.

      I also got confused (it happens fairly easily) the way you described the block party. You set it three blocks away from the time machine, but your description of the block party is much clearer, as though you were right next to it at the time. One explanation would be a memory, but the drunken you wouldn’t have that memory. Such detail would only come to those seeing it (or, I admit, those having it implanted based upon accounts forced upon him after the accident).

      This may seem like detailed nit-pickiness, but IMO it’s a good thing. You’ve set a scene that allows someone to point out these details, and in a time travel story, the details are frequently essential.

      Oh… one more nit-pickiness. An axel is what the truck likely did after the barbed wire got tied up in its axles. 🙂

      1. tward09

        Thanks for the feedback! I always want people to pretty much tear my story apart for plot holes, time issues, spelling, etc., because that’s what I need if I want to become a better writer.

        No excuses here, but I’ll let you know the view in my head as I was writing about the block party, because that was more error in my understanding than the other things, which were just errors. First off, I really need to research the actual distance of a block, because I’ve grown up in a town where blocks aren’t actually a thing. No grid in my hometown, just random streets and roads built around downtown over time, so I’ll add that to my list of things to look up. Because of that, I probably should have said “across the street from the station” rather than “a block past the station,” because I visualized it very close to the gas station instead of far off, and added to the distance from the machine itself, it’s probably a lot farther than I wrote. Reading it back, I overused the term “blocks” in general.

        And today I learned that axels and axles are different things (no wonder there was a red squiggly line under it in the text box and not in Word lol).

        Again, thanks so much for your feedback. This is why editors exist. I love it!

  30. ReathaThomasOakley

    Visions of the Past
    (Part of The Girl saga)
    1959

    Finally, she thought as Myrtis and The Girl left. Didn’t think they’d ever get off to work, so’s I could have the house all to myself. Kettle’s on the boil, everthing’s ’bout ready.

    The elderly woman took two bleached white towels from a kitchen drawer, poured boiling water on one end of the pine table, wiped and wiped the space with one towel, then stood back with a satisfied sigh.

    “That’s ’bout clean it’s gonna get,” she said as she spread the dry towel in the scrubbed place. She slowly moved into her bedroom, groaned as she knelt at the side of the bed. “Lordy, Lordy, cain’t do this many more times,” she said as she pulled a wooden box out, opened it, and gently unwrapped a shallow, dark blue and purple bowl that seemed to glimmer in the dim light.

    “Purty as first time the aunts showed it to me,” she gingerly stood, took the bowl to the table, carefully placed it on the clean towel, and sat down.

    “Blue John Stone, ain’t nothin’ like this here. Best thing for scryin’ there is.” She ran her fingers around the inside of the bowl, following the swirling colors. “Long ways from Castleton, ain’t ya?” She filled the bowl from the kettle, then spoke to it as she’d been taught as a girl, back when she was Laurel and not Granny. “Water caught from the first April rain, seven times strained, kept in a jug ‘ginst the day when truth is sought.”

    As she stared into the water, a tiny tremor came from the depths, as if a fissure had opened, and she was gazing into the mouth of Treak Cliff Cavern, a place she’d never been, had only seen in the carved stone bowl. Then, as she looked, almost afraid to blink, the surface became as smooth as a mirror, except the face reflected there was not the gray-haired woman at the table, but the image of a laughing girl of thirteen, running from a young man with hair like the night sky.

    “Not agin,” the woman whispered. “I cain’t warn her, the aunts tried, but she wanted her way, wanted him, no good though he be.” A sob caught in her throat. “I be needin’ to look to the future, don’t wanna keep on goin’ back. Look at her, wild with want. Iffen I go back, everthing’ll change. I won’t get me no babies, there won’t be no Girl.”

    Finally, after several hours, the woman pulled away from the bowl, away from the past, away from the chance to reject the man who’d bring such tragedy into her life.

    “But,” she said as she poured the water from the bowl into the sink, and carefully dried it, “but, he give me my babies, he give me them.”

    After she returned the bowl to the box under her bed, she sat in her rocker on the front porch, dipped her afternoon snuff, and waited for her daughter and granddaughter to come home.

    Reckon it’s ’bout time, she thought, ’bout time to show the bowl to The Girl, start trainin’ her to see. Yep, it’s ’bout time.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks. I’ve been working on finding a way to introduce the supernatural element. This prompt, and reading about the caverns around Castleton, sort of came together.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reatha, it’s almost a religious experience reading you. You take from the simple to the complex with the ease of a poet. Don’t ever leave this place till I’m gone myself.

  31. cosi van tutte

    I am so sorry about this one’s length. It just sort of grew in the telling. 🙂

    ****

    “I love you, Belle.”

    She contemplated the hard, snow packed ground before raising her eyes to me. “You did once, but no more. A new love has possessed you. One I can’t hope to compete against.” Her gloved hands embraced my bare hands. “So then. I release you of all contracts of the heart. And I wish you well.”

    As she left, the outdoor scene faded to dark and I stood alone with the spirit. “Why? Why would you show me this? Do you enjoy tormenting me?”

    “These are mere shadows. They are the way they are. Do not blame me.”

    I didn’t blame her, but I told her to get lost.

    She left me alone in my room.

    Another ghost was due to come within the next hour. I was tired. My head ached.

    I wanted to go back. I wanted to stop my foolish younger half and tell him to see what he has right there. A lovely woman who loves him despite his folly.

    I would need help.

    I knew exactly where to go.

    ***

    Professor Brown answered the door. He regarded me with wild-eyed craziness. “Ehhh? I don’t deal with well-wishers at this time of night.” And he slammed the door in my face.

    “Open the door. I am no well-wisher, whatever that may be.”

    He whipped the door open again and gave me a quick look over. “Not a well-wisher, huh?” He squinted. “I…uhhh…don’t owe you any money, do I?”

    “You do, but that is a separate matter. I need you to build me a time machine.”

    “A time machine?” He sucked in his breath. “Now, who told you I could make a time machine?”

    “It’s a well-known fact. Make me one. Get it done as soon as you can.”

    “Oh, but these things take time.” He smiled. “And money. Oh, so much money.”

    “I’ll pay you later. Come. Time is short. I need it now.”

    “Ohhh, well.” He thought about it. “How much will you pay me?”

    “Enough.”

    He sucked in his breath again. “Enough? That isn’t a precise amount.”

    I considered slapping him. “I’ll pay you whatever amount you ask for.”

    His eyes sparkled with iridescent greed.

    “Within reason.”

    “Oh, yes. Of course. Always within reason. Well. Normally, I would make you one to meet your specific needs, but since you seem to be in such a rush to pay me—”

    “I am not.”

    “—I happen to have one, sitting here on my premises. Aren’t you the lucky one?”

    “Where is it?”

    “Follow me.”

    ****

    To be continued…..

    1. cosi van tutte

      Continuation/conclusion….

      ****

      I followed him into an over-sized barn. It was all too tall and all too wide. “What manner of place is this?”

      “This is where I create my time machines. Need a lot of space for them, you know.” He sucked in his breath again and let it out in a chortle.

      He pulled the barn door open and led me over to a strange device. It looked like a sleigh with eight artificial horses. Yellow streams of light constantly arced between the horses and the sleigh, linking them all together.

      “And there she is. Isn’t she lovely? Climb up into the sleigh. Careful! Watch out for that first step. It’s a doozy.”

      I sat down and looked at the vast instrument panel before me.

      “Don’t worry about all of those buttons and dials. They’re mainly for show. Now, the only one you need to worry about it is this one here.” He pointed at a thing that showed the current date. A dial sat under each section of the date. “Here you can adjust whatever date you want to jump to.” He pointed to a bit red button with the word START on it. “And that one. I assume I don’t have to explain that one’s function.”

      “Obviously.”

      “Where you planning to go?”

      I didn’t have to think about it. I told him when and he adjusted the date for me. “When you get back in time, tell the machine what moment and what place you want to go to and it will take you there. Well.” He shook my hand and sucked in his breath. “Good luck. I’m gonna go home and decide on what you owe me for this late night adventure. Be sure to come back in one piece.” He walked off, chortling.

      I didn’t give it another thought.

      I pressed the button.

      The sleigh jolted forward in uneven jerks and bumps and starts and stops. I sat back in my seat, deeply offended. He had played me for a fool. He gave me a time machine that belongs in a trash—-

      The horses reared up and flew up to the barn’s ceiling.

      I pressed back against my seat, desperately wishing for something to grab, something to hang on to.

      It wasn’t until the sleigh had almost reached the top that I wished for a better way to die.

      The barn’s ceiling disappeared like morning mist and I found myself in the early morning sky. “Take me to the McGonagall’s Park thirty minutes before Belle appears.’

      The horses plummeted to earth.

      I was going to die.

      I’m sorry to say it, but I clutched the instrument panel and screamed.

      All the way down, one steady note of shrill screaming.

      I am not proud of it.

      ***

      The machine smoothed into a graceful, easy landing.

      I staggered out of my seat and was deeply thankful that Marley had interrupted my meal earlier. Otherwise, I would have vomited all over the past.

      I pulled myself together and walked down to the place I knew. I had traveled it so often with her arm linked so gently in mine.

      The crossbridge in McGonagall’s Park. There I was. Standing right where I knew I would be. At the very middle, looking out at the frozen water.

      I approached myself. “Hello there.”

      “Hello there yourself.” I sighed. “I have no idea why I’m here. I have so many more important things to do, but I’m here, waiting for her to show up. I wish she would beg off and just leave me to my work.”

      “Idiot.”

      “What?”

      “She loves you.”

      “Love doesn’t pay the bills.”

      Oh, why did I give myself only thirty minutes? And why did my past self have to be so difficult?

      “No, it doesn’t. But to have a woman who loves you by your side makes paying those bills worthwhile.”

      “Who are you? And why do you look like me? And why, oh why, are you dressed in naught but a nightshirt? You will surely catch your death.”

      “Never mind my death, you fool. When she comes, take her in your arms and tell her I love you. Kiss her. Dance her across this bridge as if you were mad. For she is the best thing you will ever know. Money, no matter how much, cannot compete with her smile and her laugh and the brightness in her glorious eyes.”

      He stepped closer to me. “I seem to know you. You remind me of my father and I don’t understand why. Are we related?”

      “That answer is inconsequential. Just do as I say and you will be set for life. If you do not, you will grow to be old and lonely and bitter and forgotten. If you push Belle aside, you will never know love again.”

      “Ebeneezer?”

      “I must go. Heed my words. Please.”

      Her voice sounded closer.

      I ran away.

      Even though I dreaded the whole affair, I climbed back into the time machine, changed back the date, and told it where to go.

      ***

      After returning the machine, I returned to my bed, utterly exhausted, and fell asleep.

      No other spirits came that night.

      At least, none that I was aware of.

      I’d never slept so sound.

      ***

      I awoke.

      It was Christmas morning and my Belle woke beside me. “Merry Christmas, darling.”

      I kissed her. “Merry Christmas.”

        1. cosi van tutte

          Thank you, Reatha!

          I was going to comment on your story in the previous prompt, but the system keeps eating my comment. I really enjoyed it for reasons I’m not going to mention just in case they’re the reason why my comment’s getting killed. 🙁

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            Thanks, it took me several days to get it posted, then I thought I should have explained the whole thing a bit more. But, thanks.

          2. cosi van tutte

            Hey, Reatha!

            Oh. My. Gosh. I just realized why my comment kept getting killed in the previous prompt and it made me face-palm. I compared your story to a Alfred Hitchclock Presents episode. Apparently, the system doesn’t like the second half of poor Alfred’s last name. Especially if you remove the letter l. 🙁

          3. ReathaThomasOakley

            Oh, Cosi, that’s so funny. I tried to explain what I was doing that kept me from posting and the explanation, that I thought I was cleverly disguising, wouldn’t post. That’s some slick filter we got working here.

          4. UnclePizza

            Ah, the Alfred H. revelation explains why my comment to you (Cosi) got blocked a few weeks ago. I had said that your story made me just Know that one day I would be able to brag at c0cktail (replace the zero with the letter “o”) that I knew the famous Cosi when she was just posting flash fiction. So there you go – a few weeks late but at least now we have one clue as to what trips the blocking algorythm!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Okay Uncle, I’m man enough to tell Cosi, the story was certainly a sweet tale. Also loved the sleigh as a time machine. I’m having a blast reading all the great stories this week, but Cosi, your story shines the brightest.

      1. pvenderley

        There’s a wonderful romance to time travel stories that you capture perfectly here — that the machine will know where to go based upon subjective human definitions. You’ve crafted the story nicely to allow us to accept that by the time it comes. Although I struggled with credulity as Doc Brown opened the door to Ebeneezer the second time and their subsequent dialog, you brought me back as they walked to the barn, and is was solidly in the story once Ebeneezer pressed the Start button.

        I just…
        Well, I think you obliterated a significant chunk of required high school reading with this time travel jaunt. 🙂

  32. Ananfal

    When I stepped into the time machine, tears were already blurring in my eyes. I didn’t think about paradoxes or anything of the like – it just leads to insanity. Instead, I thought about the time and place I was going to.

    The sky was dark, I remember. Everything was dim and shadowed. There was no color. No laughter. Faint smiles to show the world what they wanted to see. The house was full of raised voices, but even they seemed dull.

    How old was I then? I can barely remember. So young, but so terribly old in the worst of ways. But at that point I was beyond caring.

    I can’t remember what the machine looked like, what it sounded like. I don’t remember how long the trip took – it could have lasted seconds, or even years. All I know was the salty taste of my lips as I cried.

    I don’t remember where I landed. By the time I looked up and actually saw what was in front of me, I was already in front of my bathroom. My hand was shaking as I slowly tilted the knob and entered the room.

    The scene was exactly like in my memory, every crystal clear detail ingrained in my mind as though it was etched in stone. I stumbled, almost fell to my knees, but managed to stagger forward and close my fingers around the knife before it could pierce skin.

    “Hope hurts.” The words, choked, hoarse, pulled out of my throat as I knelt down next to myself, still holding the knife safely away from my wrist. “But… Love… It’s… It’s real, and when you have it… It’s the most painful happiness you’ll ever feel, and the happiest pain you’ll ever want.”

    I was crying, both then and now, four hands clutching onto the knife, my intentions long forgotten as I held onto my words as though they were my lifeline – and in a sense, they were.

    For if I had not uttered them, blood would have flown that night on the white tile, and I would never have spoken them at all.

    ——————

    The night I thought about suicide was the scariest night of my life, for I thought about the bleak darkness that awaited me down that road and decided instead, that painful hope was better and the chance for love was worth it.

    I’m not happy with the way this piece came out, but I’m too emotional to write clearly right now. I tried to play around with tenses and pronouns, since time blends together here and there are two mes. I hope its not too confusing for everyone else.

    I hope others who find themselves in situations like this find their someone to tell them hope is worth it.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Ananfal!

      This piece was beautiful. I loved the paragraph about “Love hurts…”

      And I this line made me smile: “I didn’t think about paradoxes or anything of the like – it just leads to insanity.” because that’s why I generally don’t write time machine stories. 😀

      I’m so glad you didn’t choose to go down that dark road. 🙂

      1. Ananfal

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you liked my piece, as disjointed and confusing as it was. I don’t generally write time travel stories either, since they make my head spin. 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Ananfal, of course you wrote this with high emotion, that’s the magic of all good writing. Don’t ever change this, it’s perfect in it’s own way. It shows the raw emotion. Try to change it and you’ll lose the magic. Don’t ever sacrifice the magic in life whether real or fiction. It’s easy to be mechanically correct, but look what you end up with? This is a wonderful trip to take as a story, especially the victory.

          1. Ananfal

            Thanks for your kind words, I’m glad you liked my small story. 🙂 I definitely agree with you about emotional stories, I just wish that I was a bit more coherent when I’m very emotional.

  33. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    I, Savior

    I thought, you know, there would be something spectacular when I arrived. There were no arcs of electricity that would make Tesla proud, no electromagnetic waves bowing my visual perception of reality, nor the stench of burnt hair. I know the last one seems strange, but when you test out a device that needs as much power as my time machine, you’d expect to ride the lightning, too. Thankfully, I didn’t.

    Anyway, I appeared in my old backyard. That was where I had hoped to materialize because that was where the machine sat in my future self’s time. Besides, the device wasn’t capable of transport. Well, I could theoretically move it elsewhere, but it would require a heavy-duty truck and trailer. I didn’t actually need to move it because it sat exactly where I wanted to go and because I knew there was nothing occupying that same exact space in the past. Only God could know what would happen to me if I materialized where an object already existed. I didn’t want to find that out the hard and probably painful way.

    After exiting the device, I walked across the rain-soaked lawn. The clouds above still sprinkled small beads of glassy water onto the world, and because my fever had turned up the heat before I left, it felt good against my skin. Fissures of lightning crawled along the dark sky, and a rolling roar of thunder boomed. The cold weather irritated my chest, and I coughed. Remnants of blood stippled my hand, and I wiped my lips hoping the rainwater would wash away whatever I missed.

    No doubt, this story is as you expected. The only reason I went back in time—as anyone else would—was to change the future. Unfortunately, I wasn’t here to save myself. No, that wasn’t it at all because I knew how a paradox worked. I knew that going back and changing my life may have an impact on everything else, sure, but it might also alter the timeline in a way that ensured I never traveled back. Of course, if I never travel back, then how could I change the future? Exactly. I wasn’t prepared to figure that out because I had more important things to worry about, and the fate of the world was more important than my survival in the future.

    Despite what I’ve just told you, I don’t want you to think of me as selfless. What I had to do in the past was selfish. True, I went back to save the world, but I only did it to save my daughter. Furthermore, and this is the part you’ll likely think of me as a maniac who doesn’t deserve to live, I had to kill hundreds of people. Men. Women. Children. All murdered by me.

    Still here? Well, it all started ten days from now—or twelve years before I used the time device. It started with a woman and a child. A birth that would end the human race. A birth that some called the coming of the antichrist—the end of times. That woman was my neighbor.

    As the rain fell harder, the subtle ping and pong of it hitting nearby pottery and buckets, I went to the shed. I had the key in my pocket, so I opened the door. Inside there were few things of interest to me. I would later needs some of this stuff to make more weapons, but for now, I had only need for one item, and that was the hand spade. After picking it off the wall mount, I closed the doors, followed the side of the house, and exited through the gate.

    The neighbor’s house was aglow with amber light, but only through the big picture window. It was there I was able to spy Michelle sitting at the dining room table nursing a small bowl of hot soup. She gently scooped up a spoonful, puckered her adorably pouty lips, and blew on it.

    I wished I didn’t have to kill her. I knew I had no choice, though. If she didn’t die, then many more people would. In fact, the ratio, if I remember correctly, was for every one person I killed, I saved close to ten thousand others. It was an obvious answer to the choice I had in front of me, but it disturbed me nevertheless.

    In the past—before this day, not in the future of this day—she had asked me to water her plants while she was away. She had told me that she kept a spare key hidden in a fake rock and buried in her garden. According to her, she was a klutz and often did things like lock her keys in the car or had locked herself out of the house. It was fortunate for me that she kept it there at all times.

    After opening the door, I listened for a moment. The sweet scent of tortilla soup made my mouth water, but it also bothered my sensitive throat. I held my hand over my mouth and coughed. They came as nothing more than soft chuffs of air. When they subsided, I wiped the blood on my pants and listened. There was still only the soft clink of the spoon against the bowl as she scooped up the soup. No indication of her hearing me.

    Now inside, I stood behind her. The spade felt slick in my hand, probably a combination of sweat and rainwater. My heart hammered, thumping hard in my ears, deafening one of them. My face burned, and maybe I was pale, I couldn’t know. Anxiety had worked its magic, and my illness had taken it a step farther.

    As she blew on the soup, I came up behind her and stabbed her neck with the spade. She dropped the spoon, grabbed her throat, and looked up at me. Surprise was what I saw on her face, but had she known the kind of hell she would rain upon the world if given the chance to live, it might have been a look of acceptance. At least, that how I wished it were, because I needed something to acknowledge that I was doing the right thing. However, the world in the future and the world in the now would never know what I had to do, what I would do, and why I needed to do it.

    I don’t need to tell you what I did next, but suffice to say I had to make sure the baby did not survive. As sure as I sit here and write to you all about what I had to do, that baby probably wouldn’t have survived the mother’s death. That wasn’t a chance I could take. Just one life can take so many more lives, and that risk alone was simply too great.

    When I finished, I rushed to the kitchen and vomited. I would have liked to blame by illness on my stirring stomach, but the reality was that I had never killed anyone, let alone a pregnant woman. That sickness lasted for days, and thankfully, it ended before I had to find the next person. A man named Albert Pinchot.

    I didn’t immediately leave her house. Instead, I went upstairs to the master bathroom to see if she had any Tylenol. She did, and although I took some, I wasn’t sure it would help with my now pounding headache. It helped a bit, but as I suspected, it wasn’t enough to ease my discomfort.

    The master bedroom had a balcony. I swiftly opened the sliding door and stepped outside. The cold water felt good, and my thrashing head seemed to settle a bit. I glanced at the device I had arrived in, and it was gone. Probably I had left the system running, and it had either returned to a different time or gone back from whence it came. It was okay, because I didn’t need it anymore.

    The horizon of twinkling lights from homes of people who would die one day made me take a deep breath to calm my nerves, and maybe it made me cough, but that was okay. The pain in my chest reminded me of why I was here and what I was doing. It was for my daughter. For me. For the future.

    NOTE: Been a while since I’ve been around here, and I miss you folks. Hope you enjoy my story even though it’s lengthy.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Welcome back! Those first few paragraphs covered all the questions I’ve had about time travel. Well done. But, I’m not certain if your MC did actually travel or if he’s reacting to a skewed reality. Whatever the truth, a great story. A sequel in the works?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        We’ve missed your style and your class of writing around here. Typical of you to leave me hanging over a cliff holding a weak branch. I also would appreciate a second part of this. it fascinates me with it’s depth and attitude.

    2. jhowe

      I think you’re actually from the future and know all about time travel. Either that, or you’re a good writer who can make us present in your story. Very well done.

  34. jhowe

    I did it again. One would think an experienced time traveler would know. There aren’t many of us but we all know – don’t visit your younger self. It’s in the guidebook. But here I am with time to consider what happened last time, which prompted the writing of the guidebook.

    It’s difficult to say how long ago it was. Time literally crawls when you go back and forth like I do. We’re trained to be subtle when traveling, to just perform the slight adjustment as ordered. And usually I do. But once, I fiddled with the dial just a bit. It’s not really a dial. To explain the workings of the portal would take a team of physicists. In other words, I have no idea. But I do know how to set the time and place.

    I set it to Kalamazoo, Michigan, January 12th, 1976. I thought just a little tweak in my SAT score might help so I wouldn’t spend two years at Community College. As it turned out, I achieved a perfect score and got a free ride to Harvard. Imagine my delight.

    Many delights are short lived. My superiors had to send someone else back to set the SAT score straight which resulted in me losing the presidency of the United States. That ended up being a blessing because when things popped back to normal, we had a plane over Russia with two hydrogen bombs on board. I really sucked as president.

    Why didn’t they fire me as a time traveler? Good question, but a complicated answer. If I’d gone to Harvard, I could probably answer it. Something to do with my links to the past – and occasionally the future. The future implications are key. If I get fired, the whole thing starts to unravel. So it’s a lifetime appointment.

    So here I am, sitting in a field behind my house in 1998. I fiddled with the dial again. I really want out. I hate time traveling. There’s no glamour, despite what they told us. I arrived yesterday. I spent the day securing a deer rifle with a laser scope. I broke about seventeen rules so far with the biggie to come.

    The recruiter is due any minute. He’s the one that talked me into this. His car arrives, a yellow Pinto. I have him in the crosshairs. In just a few seconds, I’ll be able to tell you how this all turns out…

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, jhowe!

      Just so you know, this line really cracked me up: “That ended up being a blessing because when things popped back to normal, we had a plane over Russia with two hydrogen bombs on board. I really sucked as president.” 😀

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved the way you presented time travel being a bore. When I read the prompt, first thing I thought was meeting with myself and what a self-conscious disaster that would have been. So I changed it. The web site wouldn’t print it either because it was a little ‘you know’, but anybody the age of thirteen or older would get a kick out of it. I tried to tone it down but no post, so I’m on my blog, kerrybcharlton.blogspot.com. Anyway you did nail this one John, great job.

        1. jhowe

          Hi Kerry,

          I went to your blog and read your time machine story. It was hilarious and very enjoyable. Even though much of it was about, you know, you never really came out and said it, so the filters are getting very cagy. I think they are starting to pick up on nuance. It’s too bad we can’t read a story such as this on the site because as you said, anyone over the age of thirteen would appreciate it and not be offended in the least. But back to your story: you wrote it very well and made good use of dialog laced with humor. The only bad thing was that you used ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’ twice. Once, I would have let slide, but twice…

          1. Kerry Charlton

            “Your’ exactly correct about my slip. I got “A’s” in math and science, not english. Thank you so much for the read John and the comment. Using it incorrect again on this reply was just to punish your senses one more time.

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