My Time Machine

I am constructing a time machine. It’s not a complicated thing. And you may be disappointed to know I don’t have grand plans in store for it. In fact my reason for building it is quite simple. I want to see a certain home at a certain time.

I will park my time machine midway down the block and clamber out. Everything I see will be exactly as I knew it. Old homes will seem modern. Trees will be younger, shorter, thinner. Shrubs newly planted. Cars will be large, boat-like things you see in films from those days, but not gritty like in those films. They will be shiny and new. Or newish, anyway. Anyway, they won’t look like they do in films.

I will walk up the concrete driveway into the garage. There will be unpacked moving boxes on the right, a baby blue Monte Carlo on the left. That junk never gets cleared out. She will always park her car in the garage. He will always park his in the driveway.

SCAN0005

The door into the house will open into a tiny hallway, where on the left is the laundry room. The washing machine will be filling itself with a rush of water, and a young woman in her late twenties will be loading clothes into it. She will not see me. She can’t see time travelers. But I will study her young, unlined face, her thin waist, her bell bottom pants, her feathered hair parted in the middle. She may be chewing that gum she liked, and I may catch a whiff of it. She will be younger than I am now.

In the family room is a young boy, cross-legged on the floor watching television. He has long white socks that end below the knees in two blue stripes. His shorts are comically short. His bangs touch his eyebrows. He doesn’t look up from the television. I watch him for several minutes. I am neither bored nor enthralled. I’m just watching it.

I hear the rumble of another engine in the driveway. I pop up from the floor and run to the kitchen. I use a stool to grab a glass. I fill it with ice from the refrigerator. I use the stool again to get the bottle from the cabinet above the sink. I fill the glass to the level I think he likes, then add water.

The young woman who was doing laundry enters the kitchen. She checks on the dinner cooking on the stove. One hand stirs the sauce that is simmering. Another taps a cigarette against an ashtray, then raises the cigarette to her lips. She inhales deeply. She blows smoke into the fan whirring above the stove. She bangs the ladle against the pan.

The door opens and in comes a man in a suit, his tie loose at the collar. As he enters he smells suity and fathery. He is jovial, animated, like an actor walking onto a stage. He is so much of each that it might be false. It’s just a feeling that can’t be explained. He is perhaps happy to be home to his family. He is perhaps not.

I beam as I hand him his Scotch. I aim to please.

I’m most curious to see the look on his face as he takes it. Is it thanks? Shame? Remorse? Blank?

He smells like a dad. He looks like a dad. He acts like a dad. He is not my dad. And I wish he were. And I wish he weren’t.

In time there would be screaming. Crying. Smashing. Doors slamming. Plates breaking. Tires screeching in the driveway as a gas pedal is crushed under foot. An arm in a sling.

But not tonight.

Tonight the four of us will sit at the kitchen table eating dinner. Something on the regular rotation called Burgundy Beef. Tonight I will ask Not-Dad to tell once again that funny story of the family-run restaurant he went to in Europe where the food was brought by a child shorter than the table, when the plates and a bottle of wine seemed to lift themselves up and over the table and slide halfway across before coming to a stop. And I will watch myself laugh so hard I cry. And they will watch me laugh, and they will laugh too. And be so young. And in love. Again. For a short while.

There. You see?

My time machine is complete.

__________________________

Posted to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine.

202 thoughts on “My Time Machine

  1. Pingback: Royal Male | litadoolan

  2. Pingback: Nature’s Second Chance | Wired With Words

  3. Pingback: The Execution of Mary the Elephant: The 13th of September 1916 – Erwin, Tennessee | Forgotten Correspondence

  4. Pingback: If I had a time machine | The Bohemian Rock Star's "Untitled Project"

  5. Tight writing. Nothing unneeded, yet rich enough to satisfy a hungry psyche. You took me back to my 70s, too: no cigarettes or scotch, just resentful silences and gaping emotional distance, just as addictive, just as cancerous. And those knee socks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! Yes, we all kind of looked alike back then, didn’t we?

      Enjoyed reading your thoughts on how we’re using cell phones these days. And I love That Metal Show whenever I can catch it, which isn’t very often (I don’t have cable).

      Like

    • Thank you for reblogging this – I’m honored. Glad to see you are interested in travel. I hope your journey takes you to many exciting places. There is no better way to learn about the world and how you fit into it than by visiting as much of it as you can.

      Like

      • Do us both a favor, if you would. Write down what you said in your comment there about being fascinated by creativity and what it means for your future. Write it down and put it somewhere where it won’t get lost. Or put it somewhere you think you might find it when you least expect it to. Put it behind glass that says “in case of emergency, break glass.” I promise you, at some point in your future, you will be moved when you come across that comment of yours unexpectedly. Plant that thing somewhere where you will find it. Also, eat your vegetables. Just kidding about the vegetables. I don’t care what you eat. Eat popcorn and donuts for dinner. But do that other thing! 🙂

        Like

  6. Like you, I would love to time travel back to the past just to live again all those wonderful feelings about days that have gone by. I to have written a blog about time travel and asked the question which way would you travel? I was surprised that most said they would travel into the future and the unknown. But for me, it would always be the past so I could relive those cherished moments again. Maybe I could borrow your time machine Professor? Thanks for posting about such a fascinating subject.

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on Welcome to Hugh's Views & News and commented:
    I know I keep harping on about time travel, but I just had to reblog this from another fellow blogger. Fascinating stuff which took me right back to my childhood in the 60’s and 70’s. I still say I’d much rather take a trip back to the past if I had a time machine. What about you, which way would you travel?

    Like

    • Thank you. Just visited your site and found myself really enjoying your music posts. Haven’t seen that video for Say It Ain’t So since it came out. Watching it in conjunction with reading your comments, I had ideas for at least two if not three potentially heartbreaking and/or uplifting posts. If only I’d been quick enough to get them down on paper, like in your tag line! Maybe I can reconstruct one later and capture some of what I just felt. If you see it pop up here, you will know what inspired it.

      Like

  8. Going back, knowing what we know now, wouldn’t that be fun. Although it could also be dangerous, think about the effects of time-line changes; frightening. Great imagery though!

    Like

    • It would be fun, wouldn’t it? Could be risky, too. What’s neat about building your time machine with words, though, is that you are in control. I share some of your frustration with what is happening here in the States.

      Like

    • Thanks! You know, my favorite old family pics are never of me. I may be in them, but I’m much more interested in pictures of other family members, especially my parents and grandparents – when they were young, where the lived, etc. I find it fascinating.

      Like

  9. Great post. I usually skim until I move on to other posts/blogs. But you trapped me with this story! Reminds me of a movie — About Time. We need to treasure life’s moment! Thank you!

    Like

    • What’s great about what we are doing is that you can read what I have to say here in my country and I can read what you have to say in yours. I appreciated getting to read Belief War in India. It’s not all pure and unadulterated innocence around here, though. You’ll get that in my Children’s Stories, but I do like to work dark at times. 😉

      Like

      • i believe we live in dark times where innocence is lost in the blink of an eye.. I’m just happy to read your post, even for a brief few minutes i was transported back to the innocent times… Its a rare gift you have there… Share the magic of your writing… Take car

        Like

  10. Pingback: My Time Machine | CoolZone

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. Your Daily Quiz site is an interesting concept I haven’t seen before. If you had to pick only one thing to have done differently, what would it be?

      Like

  11. why not continue the story chapter by chapter. my blog has many stories from the fifties which i think was the golden age of small town america. your story is from the late ’60’s seen through the eyes of a 12 year old boy?? it was an interesting period of time, on the cusp between the age of innocence and the cumulation of all that is today beginning with robert kennedy being killed, the viet nam war, martin luther king, etc. etc. by the way was the picture taken in florida? the architecture of the house in back of the boy (you) looks identical to homes built during the late 50’s in southwest florida mostly for retirees. this picture wasn’t taken in port charlotte, florida was it? ks

    Like

    • I agree that the 40s and 50s seemed to be the Golden Age, and not just for small towns but for the country as a whole. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through the turbulence of the 60s. I wasn’t 12 until much later than that, but I think my choice of picture has confused things a bit. I used this picture because it was the only one I had. This house was a rental my mother lived in prior to moving into the house I write about in the post. That’s my step-dad-to-be’s car in the driveway. They both had 1975 (maybe 76?) Monte’s Carlos when they met, believe it or not. And no, this was not in Florida but in Texas, There are some homes here in Ohio that look just like these, too. Thanks for reading!

      I enjoyed your post on writing and am curious to see where your story about first love is headed.

      Like

  12. That was a nice piece. I’m just starting to get into blogging. Haven’t done anything just yet. Your piece is the first I’ve read and followed. Very impressive! Thank you. Remember when I was growing up.

    Like

    • Tons of great stuff on your site. So many categories and all full of rich content…Patrick Stewart in a lobster suit, Icelandic reggae, Bob Ross’s afro, classic movies. I could get lost there for hours. I’m honored to be a part of it. Thank you!

      Like

      • Glad you are enjoying it:) I also have a photography and creative writing blog over at Oreosandspiltmilk.. I loved the post so it got shared and it inspired me. I also stopped by and looked around your blog, I loved it so followed. Looking forward to more posts:)

        Like

  13. You conjured up great memories for me as writing this piece must have brought up strong feelings for you. I liked it very much, and the subjects you choose for your posts. Very impressed. Good luck.

    Like

      • Thanks, Walt, for your kind comments on My Music and Why I Write. I want to dig deeper into your previous posts – most look so interesting. … ps Art trivia here: I used to be an art teacher (in my previous life(s)). The Chekov portrait you post looks like a Thomas Eakins. Is it? … Have a good writing day.

        Like

  14. I like your time machine, I have a similar one. Sometimes, I go on it for hours. It is important not to forget the past. This was a beautiful text. Keep on writing my friend.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. I’m envious of you getting to work around the globe. I would be curious to know what small corner of that globe you’ve chosen to call home now, but maybe you wish to keep it secret? Thanks for reading!

      Like

      • I am indeed in Barcelona, Walt, and it is fabulous. In winter, you can take a train ride up to the mountains (the Pyrenees) and in summer you can hop on the metro and go to the beach. The city itself is a work of art with Modernista Gaudi architecture all over the place. Settling here wasn’t easy by any means, but my gosh it was worth it!

        Like

      • Spain is the place in Europe I haven’t been and most want to go. Do you teach? I taught English in Poland for a year. Loved, loved, loved it. Living there, I mean. The teaching was okay, but difficult for an introvert like me.

        Like

  15. I was caused to remember my time machine. It is funny how we forget the parts we have blocked out and remember just what we want to remember. Every vacation looks great and the bad stuff never happened.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad you liked it. I popped over to your blog and found your post on God though-provoking. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating some of those issues myself.

      Like

    • Thanks for reblogging! Butterfies that light up would be great. I had a dream about flying with Peter Pan as kid once. Late afternoon walks are great, and so is paddling a canoe, but 6 am is just a bit too early for me!

      Like

  16. Pingback: The Buffer Post | waltbox

  17. Really enjoyed this, although I’m not from a time when cars looked like boats, still made me think and remember my childhood. I agree with the professor you should write a book!

    Like

    • Thanks very much for your kind words. The Professor is a hoot, you should check out his blog. I checked out yours. I had no idea there was something called BMR or NEAT. I wonder how many calories I am burning hunched over this tablet device on my desk.

      Like

  18. I just had to reblogg I mean I read this thing 5 times just to see the images of a good man traveling back to easier times. At points I wish I was born back then when we had nothing to fear thank you walt

    Like

  19. Walt,
    Just wanted to update you. Today marks my first day of official blogging. My first week’s blogs (3) went up this morning. I hope you’ll peruse when you get a chance. I’ll post two to three new posts a week (under the blog names “Stories From Maybe Boomer,” “Remember This?” and “The Daily Thought.” Also, I am now an official follower of your site.
    Being such a newbie, feel free to mention any goofs you see on my blogs or give any tips. I’m assuming so far my website hasn’t exploded.
    Mike Andberg

    Like

  20. Loved the story and enjoyed all the comments too.
    It is so strange looking back at our younger selves and imagining the re-write if we only knew then, what we know now. So many conversations with my Dad, would have been different. Sometimes, I have those conversations and visits from the past in my dreams. Thank you for sharing your writing and being a mentor too. I loved what you told the 18 yr old writer about capturing her intention and fascination for creativity, “Put it behind glass that says In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Shared from WordPress | jlrichards2014's Blog

    • Thank you for visiting and commenting. Your blog looks like a great resource for teachers and crafty parents. I was a substitute teacher for a very short time and have a lot of respect for people who have dedicated themselves to that important and difficult mission.

      Like

  22. Pingback: The free ticket. (Time Machine Challenge) | chey being

  23. I like this story, it has an element of true remembrance of times past we carry in our own head but few ever get to write it down. I have written my own story now, at he of 76, this to pass on to son and the next generation. You should write more.

    Like

  24. I remember your real dad – a funny guy with a very dry humor. He always dated the prettiest girls, including your mother. He sent great gifts from Europe; interesting things that weren’t sold in the US. He was beginning to get thinner hair when I knew him, but his humor never grew thin. He loved music and cats and named the cats after musicians. Rimsky-Korsakov and R-K the second. He was kind and smart and we all loved him. And then he moved away and we grew up. So sad – now I’m old and you’re all grown up!

    Like

    • Hi Cara, and thank you, I appreciate the comment and the kind words. My dad continued to love and adopt cats, in fact Phoebe, his last, is still living with us, my wife and I. She is a black cat, but he called her Phoebe Snow, after the train. Made no sense to me to name a black cat ‘snow’, but I’m sure it was more about the train than the snow!

      Like

What has it got in its pocketses?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s