CRACKERS, GUIDE US ALL
by Michael Chin
Yesterday, I explained to you that time was not always as fluid as you know it to be.
Or perhaps it always was. How to delineate?
A better approach—time may not always be as fluid as it is.
Is that right?
Yesterday, I thought it possible that at some point beyond the future anyone has thought to look to, things might be different. For the future, that ever-changing thing, was once more static. Back when time travel was only accessible to those choice few—the elite, and yes, by that I mean wealthy—who were guided by the hard and fast principle of non-interference.
The knowledge that any small change to a past moment might result in an irrevocably changed present which, if nothing else, might not result in their present position of privilege. Step on a butterfly and wake up disadvantaged. Worse yet, wake up middle class and oblivious to how much better life could be. Worse than that, wake up not oblivious. Ineffectual and aware of everything.
No, the non-elite were the ones to foul up the works. Yesterday. Always revising history toward greater justice. There were timelines in which the Holocaust was history, not dystopian fiction. Times when Yoko died and the Beatles lived. Times in which there were no photographs of dinosaurs, nor video of the great illusionist’s resurrection, much less the documentary film explaining how he pulled it off, much less wars waged in his name or service missions inspired by his good word.
Could it all happen again? Might we discover a way to reset?
Would we want to?
Time is no measure, and so we puzzle over space. Travel back to when the continents connected so we can traverse to opposite ends of the globe on foot, on pilgrimages. They say Buzz Aldrin once really did go to the moon, as absurd as it is to think, for now everyone has taken that flight with Neil Armstrong to the cusp of the cosmos, to the point Armstrong expects it, to the point he reflects upon different passengers. How many of them fail to realize how much farther off the stars are when we’re only traveling as far as the moon.
And there are these arguments. That this conception of time has defused any drive toward innovation. Now that all things are, who are we to make them? The key’s introducing the idea earlier—in retro-innovation that mucks up the works, losing foundations in favor of earlier functions.
There are those who prophesize that this will be our undoing.
Not only the elite.
The elite change day by the day.
Yesterday, we were at war.
Yesterday, there had never been a war since the 1980s, when the Soviet Union nuked the United States and everyone was safe.
Yesterday was tomorrow and we skipped today, but accepted it in the promise of next week, by which time it would all work itself out. It usually does.
Or does it?
The history books change.
The authors change.
There is no inventor anymore, only which archivist when. The new adage that the victors write history, but what is history but soothsaying and who are the victors, the elite, when to have means to defend, not to keep. When to discover means to go back further to find.
Yesterday, our cat Crackers butted his head against a new clear, bullet proof window until he cracked his skull. Until he hemorrhaged. Until we went back and didn’t install the window and Crackers butted against empty space as if it were the action that mattered, not the result. As if this were unchangeable.
Crackers, guide us all.
We will not see you die again.
Our changes are more modest for now.
Since nothing. There is no thing. Only was. Only will be.
***Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of the Oregon State University MFA program in creative writing. He won the 2014 Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction from the University of New Orleans and has previously published or has work forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, the Prairie Schooner blog, Word Riot, and Gravel. He is a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.***