Aphelion Issue 274, Volume 26
July 2022
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Time Lies

by Richard Tornello

Time line, Time lies, A theory expounded by one area of physics -- is it real, or is it an invention, a construct originally developed to pull the ape out of the quagmire of existence, give meaning to life and the cycles of the planets and stars? Is it spacetime or timespace? Is there a multiverse, where every time a decision is made, or a choice is taken, another version of reality is spawned, or as postulated by Dr. Haber, do the universes diverge due to "Effective Dreaming", where thought (or even wishful thinking) can change or create reality?

Maybe all these theories are just attempts at explaining the randomness of life -- as well as the wild coincidences. Time lines or time lies. Movies are made about it, science fiction stories abound. I'm not sure it's all that off the wall. We have all had strange experiences -- mine are probably no stranger then some -- then again...

"Michael, what is wrong with you?"

What, hunh? I stop my jogging in the park. There are two children looking at me, pointing at me, crying, and an older woman glaring at me as if I've done something terrible.

"Excuse me? What is the problem? I didn't run into these kids orů"

"How could you just pass your two lovely children up without stopping? Is your running that important to you?"

"What are you talking about?" This park attracts some crazies being so close to Washington. It's tourist trap and weirdo magnet.

It's true, I do have two children, a boy and a girl, but they are much older than these moppets. Sure, they resemble my kids at that age, but they also look like any number of the kids in Gap Kids ads.

"I have no idea who you are or who these children are."

Grandmother, as she defines herself, lets out: "Michael, cut it out! You're not being funny!" In a lower voice, she continues, "I never liked you that much. My daughter married a bum, and today you proved it! Ignoring your own children..."

"Excuse me, I don't wish to be rude, but my name is not Michael, and I have no idea who you are or whose children these might be."

"The children seem to know who you are."

I look back they are sobbing. I kneel down and look at them. I have no idea who they are.

She is, she reminds me, the children's grandmother and my mother-in-law. "I don't know why or how you can deny that these are your children, Michael. Do you think I'm blind? Do you think they are too young to know their own father?"

I always carry my wallet with driver's license, health insurance card, and the usual assortment of credit and debit and loyalty program cards in case of emergency. I reach in to my pack pull it out and look. Sure as shit I'm who I think I am, correct address and all. I show it to her. Probably the clincher is the concealed-weapon carry permit -- they don't hand those out without heavy-duty background checks. Also it implies that I might have a gun on me somewhere...

Ashen faced, she retreats, grabbing the children and moving off.

Very strange I think, to be mistaken to that degree about a supposed relative. That strangeness does seem to fit in with last nights dream though. I begin to jog again and pick up the pace. I need to clear my head. It's now been about an hour of hard running and I'm hungry and thirsty. Off to the sub shop.

"Hey Michael, how you doing? I haven't seen you in a looong time!"

I look behind me to see who this person is addressing, thinking that maybe my mysterious double is right behind me. But there's nobody there, so I turn back to the pretty woman behind the counter. She's new here, at least new to me, but gorgeous. I wish I did know her the way this Michael does. I put my hand up to stop the conversation.

"Sorry, I'm not --"

"Quit kidding around Mike," she says, looking annoyed. "I heard you're married and have two kids. Nice of you to let me know. I really miss you, you bastard."

"Look," I begin to explain, "I wish I was this 'Michael', but I'm not. Really. If I did know you, trust me, I'd remember -- I never forget a beautiful woman."

"Bullshit Mike," she says, "You always were throwing that sort of stuff out there when you wanted out."

I did the same thing for her as I did with the old lady with those strange kids. I reached into my bag, retrieved my wallet and presented my driver's license to her. She looked at it, at me and again at the ID.

She did not back off. "Same gray hair, same laugh, same everything. Only the name and address are different. Okay, big boy, what about that scar on your stomach, that zipper you inherited from that butcher of a doctor when you were a baby?"

I blink several times, wondering how she could know that. I would definitely remember having my shirt off in front of a woman this attractive. But she knows me as some guy named Michael.

"Yes," I say slowly, "I do have a scar from an operation that I refer to as a zipper. But I don't know you. I'm not kidding."

The dream, those odd physical mental occurrences, keeps coming back to me from last night. Maybe my meditation practices are twisting back on themselves.

Maybe this is a dream. Sometimes you know you are dreaming, while the dream carries on. There is nothing you can do, not even rouse yourself. It, whatever it is, just has to happen. We have all had that experience. I will wake up and things will be as they should be. I am not Michael or what ever his face is. I think as I touch her hand she is very pretty, charming even now when she seems pissed off at me -- or Michael -- and there is something there. What the hell -- if it is a dream, there's no harm in going with the flow...


In the early morning, I awake. Sitting on the bed side, feet dangling, not quite touching the rug, I'm almost sobbing, my head is in my hands. I can't believe what I did last night.

I killed a man, for no reason I can recall. I wasn't drunk; on drugs or anything. I don't understand -- I didn't even know him. I'm not like that. I wait for the scream of the sirens call, and the ride to jail with my hands chained behind my back.

I had no reason to act like that, like a madman, murdering as stranger in cold blood. Did she have something to do with it?

I sit here waiting, waiting, not believing. And the wait is torture.

I should turn myself in -- no, I'm a coward. Let them get me in my house. I have no place to run. Come and get me, I did it. Shame on my face, my head still in my hands . And yet no siren, no heavy knock on the door, no Miranda speech, no habeas corpus?

I look around, the lights blink only for a microsecond, all sound exits my brain, sensation empty, I recognize this, again!

"Michael, what's the matter with you this morning?"

I'm not Michael, I want to say, but I'm afraid to look in my wallet.


© 2008 Richard Tornello

Bio: Richard Tornello is a business owner/consultant/technical recruiter with 28+ years experience, married and kept by one very neurotic cat Stella. He has a degree from Rutgers University in Asian Studies. Richard's poetry and fiction has appeared a number of times in Aphelion (with one or more poems almost every month!); his most recent short story was They Never Knew, in the April 2008 issue.

E-mail: Richard Tornello

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