This story won First Place in the 2003 Green River Writers Green River Lean contest for flash fiction
A Journey of a Thousand Miles
“Turn back the clock, Evan. Can’t you turn back the clock?”
If absolute power corrupts, and time heals all wounds, what would absolute power over time do? Corrupt time? Heal absolutely?
My windshield wipers tick like pendulums. Frank Sinatra informs me enthusiastically that he did it his way. I wonder what “it” was. I wonder if I should do “it” his way, too, and what, exactly, his way was. Maybe I should buy the CD. Maybe the answers are in the liner notes.
“Turn back the clock, Evan.”
My mother’s voice over the phone. In a way, I wasn’t surprised she’d found me; she could be very efficient when you didn’t want her to be. Depressing, that I recognized her voice immediately, after all these years. It was ten thousand whiskies and a quarter-million Marlboros huskier, but I knew it from the first rasping intake of breath.
“Moze died last year–,” Moze, the pathetic step-father who did nothing to stop her destroying their health and my sanity, “–with lungs. Me, it’s throat.”
Cancer, she meant.
She looks like ET in the hospital bed: skin gray, arms emaciated, eyes huge, head bulging — in her case, from a helmet of tight gray ringlets. A wig, I suddenly realize.
I hold out flowers. I had been tempted to get four roses, but decided on tinted asters and eucalyptus, garish and heavily-scented.
Can’t you turn back the clock?
I step into the room.
Oh, God. Oh, Mommy. If I only could.
WRITING PROMPT: If your main character could turn back the clock, how far would he/she turn it back and to change what?