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Dragging the Frame

by Jason Erik Lundberg

The young woman at the bus stop told me she was my daughter. She was attractive, Eurasian, had dark brown hair and blue eyes, but only looked to be ten years younger than me, and I told her so. I couldn't have fathered her at the age of ten, could I?

"Time travel," she said.

"Oh come on." Much as I'd fantasized about time travel, especially to correct the mistakes of my youth, deep down I was a nonbeliever. "Einstein said it was impossible, and Mallett has said travel to the past is extremely limited. You can't go earlier than when the machine is switched on. And I haven't heard anything about a time machine having been successfully invented today."

"It happened about two hours ago," she said. "You always were a skeptic. And you made my life hell, you know."

The thought of confrontation with a future daughter, which seemed impossible as my wife wasn't even pregnant yet, twisted my insides a bit. Had I slapped down her dreams? Abused her?

"No, but you disapproved of every decision I ever made. We yelled and fought for most of my childhood. Nothing I did was right in your eyes. I left home at 18, and we've hardly spoken since then."

"So, saying for a second that this is true, why are you here?"

She looked over my shoulder and I turned; the 171 was approaching from down the road. My bus.

"I just wanted to tell you to ease up. Trust your daughter's decisions. Have some faith in her. Don't be such a prick."

I exhaled a quiet laugh to myself. It was impossible, it was stupid. This young woman was off her nut. Best just to ignore her. At least it would make an amusing anecdote later. For a brief moment, I'd been afraid she was going to say that she was here to kill me or something.

The bus was only about ten meters away, brakes already hissing, when I said, "You don't have to be a man to be a prick, you know. Best of luck to you back at the asylum."

I felt a hard push from behind and I tumbled into the road as the bus arrived.

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enjoyed it; the daughter's an interesting character.

Posted by: khairulanwar | March 20, 2009 3:40 PM

I love the fact that there is no miraculous "Ah-Ha!" in the story. No story of salvation/redemption through time travel.

He thinks she's a nut from first to last.

Posted by: ~Leigh | March 27, 2009 5:35 AM

I'm glad you picked up on that. Time travel is an SF trope that's been done to death, but I still wanted to try something a bit different. I think the narrator has a wee bit of uncertainty in the middle-ish part of the story, but it doesn't last long.

And since I bring up Ronald Mallett, there's a good chance that the daughter has traveled from a parallel universe, so that any changes she makes to the past aren't actually *her* past. So even if she kills her father, it doesn't wipe her out, just the version of her that might have existed in the universe of the story.

Posted by: Jason Erik Lundberg | March 27, 2009 5:54 AM

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