If I Had a Time Machine…


I’ll never forget this moment.

Our shoulders touch, there on the zebra crossing, two passing people who may – or may not – have hit each other even a fraction of a second later. I don’t believe in love at first sight until now, never thought that worlds and lives and dynasties could collide like this, could be caught and redirected in an instant.

My hand brushes his chest and I feel the anonymity of the hard muscles beneath his jumper, guess at his strength, his physique. I am dazzled and, at the same time, tattooed by the weight of this event; this moment will be with us both for every last second of our lives.

He is a beautiful man. Exquisite.

He opens his mouth to speak and I, instinctively, draw near. This is the air we share; his breath and mine mingling for the first time. His hand reaches out for my hand and I watch his strong brown fingers wrap the mottled pale purple of my cold wrist.

I move my head towards his. I sweep my hair behind my ear to keep it from sticking to his skin, to the vivid red wound, to the blood seeping from the canyon across the front of his head.

If I had a time machine I would drive it more slowly than I drove today.

I will not reach down, in my time machine, and read the text from Tracy – only looking up when the dense damp object hits my windscreen.

I will wait, when I get my time machine, to meet him in a pub or a club, search for him in the smoky pulse of music, mirrors, bodies.

When I get my time machine the first place I see him will not be here, flattened and broken against this striped street whilst all that we could have been leaks out of him and pools around my feet.


This was an entry for the https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/writers-writing-competition/


9 Comments Add yours

  1. jessjoysite says:

    This is beautiful, Anstey. The collision of two souls, the what ifs, the regret. Such a sad concept. Most poignant line “whilst all that we could have been leaks out of him and pools around my feet.” Absolutely superb xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. braidyspice says:

    Jeepers! I did not see that coming. I love to write things like this myself, so reading it by someone else is just wonderful!


  3. So stylish, so many clever touches and details: ‘tattoed by the weight of this event’, ‘this moment will be with us for every last second of our lives’ (the significance of which we are about to discover) and, of course, the last line. Masterly control.


  4. profbenj says:

    Another good ‘Dark Side’ story from you, Anstey! You manage to put a lot into a very few words. I liked the ‘anonymity of the hard muscles’, and just the lone word ‘Exquisite’ in the dark context. Good image of ‘this striped street’. Very clever change of tenses towards the end, when you move from, ‘If I had a time machine I would …’ to ‘I will not reach down…’ and ‘I will wait..’ Very effective. Thanks Anstey.


  5. Neil W says:


    Also I can’t help looking back at ‘anonymity of the hard muscles beneath his jumper’ and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s really good, or if I want to change it.


  6. artimisblake says:

    What a unique twist on the time machine concept.


  7. profbenj says:

    Congratulations Anstey. We should buy you a large Pinot at the Astor tomorrow! (It might heal your throat too 😢)


  8. jessjoysite says:

    Congratulations! Brilliant story xx


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