February 8, 2016 by RJ
I suppose for most people, when they first get a time machine, their inclination is to go backwards.
The instruction manual came, as most instruction manuals do, with a series of warnings. But instead of warning me to not use any electrical device in the bathtub, these were more philosophical warnings about time travel itself. Warnings not to change epic events or leave anything brought into the past (lest someone in the 1840s learns how to make a ballpoint pen) and not to bring anything more than a stick of chewing gum back to the present. Online some other owners had posted reviews and recommendations for certain events, rating them and commenting: Cleopatra really was hot and Disappointed meeting Jesus. There weren’t any warnings about going into the future.
Never too interested in history, I concentrated on events from my own life. I returned to the afternoon I lost my virginity, but we looked so young and timid that it just made me uncomfortable and more than a little sad. I went back to the night the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994, but I was too nervous about inadvertently making a change to the event that I couldn’t really enjoy it. I have a DVD of the whole series, which has better picture quality anyway.
One time recently, when I was late with the rent while waiting for a check to clear, I went back to the 28th and proceeded to pay the rent a little early. I received a warm, appreciative smile from the woman at the management company.
Lately, usually on tedious afternoons, I will make myself a sandwich and pay a few bills and then climb into the time machine. I leave the date set to the current date and set the time for 9:30pm. There is the usual high-pitched whine that occurs during transmission, though I don’t know why there must be this racket. Maybe there is always an annoying whine present while we are passing time but only when time is sped up- compressed- is it noticeable. When my journey is finished, I step out of my time machine in my pajamas with a fresh, minty taste in my mouth and I climb into bed.
THOMAS O’ CONNELL is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Broken Plate, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.