3WW "Dad's Wrinkling Time"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are evident, illusion and tragic. Something fun.

Dad’s Wrinkling Time
My father is a “tinkerer.”

Mother’s convinced he’s some sort of mad scientist, mad being the evident word she’s concerned about, but so far he’s been pretty harmless. Sure, there’s been a few spot electrical fires and some odd smells now and again.

The stuff he invents? Processes and applications mostly, a few upgrades to small appliances. Nothing I would consider really all that useful to increasing our material wealth. I mean, we’re still living in the three-bedroom ranch house he and my mother built in 1963, hello.

His workshop takes up a 10-foot by 12-foot room he partitioned off in the basement near the washing machine. For some reason when he’s working and my mother needs to run a load of laundry, we tend to trip a lot of breakers and go black for a few minutes. I don’t get to see the electric bill, but I’m sure it’s pretty outrageous.

I go to get a clean shirt from the dryer and he slides open the big metal pocket door and motions to me with two excited fingers into his “laboratory.”

“I think you’ll find this quite interesting,” he says.

There’s this metal halo sitting on the particleboard workbench, like one of those things you see on guys who broke their necks in motorcycle wrecks, or jumping drunk into the shallow end of a pool. You know, the thing that gets screwed onto the guy’s skull with medical screws.

“It’s a time machine.”


“No, I mean it. It works and everything.”

“Gone anywhere?”

“Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? You can go back in time, but not forward. And for all of 22 minutes, exactly.

“Just for fun, I went back to last Tuesday.”

“For 22 minutes? Wow. (I stifle a yawn.) What did you do?”

“Well, you know how all you read about time travel is ‘Don’t mess up the time/space continuum crap?’ Don’t change things, don’t leave things, don’t step on anything - and Hell’s Bells don’t meet yourself?”

“I guess.”

“It’s all bullshit, an illusion. I changed everything. It was breakfast – you weren’t up yet – and I had Grape Nuts instead of oatmeal, tea instead of coffee, even told your mother I liked that hideous chicken dish we had on Monday, asked if she would make it again.”

“Wild,” I say while pulling on my eyebrow hairs with a pair of needle-nose pliers.

“Wanna try it?”

Now I’m stuck. Tragically stuck, 'cause he's sitting there, smiling and all, with his glasses pushed on top of his forehead.

“Can I take a shower first? I mean, I wouldn’t want to show up anywhere in the past with this serious case of bed-head.”

“Well, hurry up, I was planning to go back and watch the end of last Sunday’s ‘Cold Case’ you forgot to TiVo for me. Before I mow the lawn.”

Normally, I steer well clear of the things in my father’s lab, but there is something I’d like to correct.

And just so you know, just in case he sends me to the late Cretaceous Period or something and forgets how to reel me back, it’s about our last conversation:

I’m sorry.


VL Sheridan said...

Oh, how nice. That's really sweet that he wanted to make sure she knew that. Well done.

The Rusty Pen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Rusty Pen said...

Hilarious! I liked the description of boredom and the eyebrow hair extraction. Where exactly did you end up?

Nicely done!

Old Altonian said...

Interesting bit of sci-fi, with a nice down to earth touch at the end.

Christine said...

You've convinced me that the time machine works. Love the conversation part of this story.

oldegg said...

I don't think it mattered much about the bed head, he still have it when he went back the 22 minutes. If only my father was that inventive! Beautifully done.

jaerose said...

It's amazing what you can do in the time it takes for your shirt to spin dry..something fun and indeed sweet..yet ending with 'I'm sorry' keeps us guessing..Jae ;)

Monica Manning said...

That was my father. Down to the 'workshop' next to the laundry space. I never knew what he did down there, but he spent a lot of time in his cave. There was an unspoken rule that we didn't disturb him.

Loved the ending. I always say I wouldn't change what happened in the past (though I'd like to obliterate most of it), as it's made me who I am now, but there are some people I'd like to apololgize to. Too many, actually.

Deanna Schrayer said...

This is great Thom! I love how you set us up there in the end for (what I thought) would be the kid trying to get more time in to play games or something, but no, instead he shows how much he loves his dad. Fantastic!

Sonia said...

very interesting! too bad he can only go back for 22 minutes.

laradunning said...

I like the voice in this piece. Not to teeny, but not adult either. I guess its good you can only go back for 22 min. less to change. I like how the dad changed simple things. It seemed much bigger in his mind, than I think it really was. Sutle humor worked well with this.