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Master of Time

by J. Lee Strickland

Steven mastered time travel. He mastered the brutal simplicity of it. There is only one reason to travel into the past, and that is to change it. There is only one reason to travel into the future, and that is to determine it. He started with the past, with his first wife.
He eliminated her.

He didn’t kill her. He simply erased their marriage. To be certain of the effect, he went so far as to remove certain preconditions to that matrimony, like their attendance at the same high school, the senior prom and those embarrassing photos. Sure, there might still be some someone in the world with a past like hers, even a name like hers, but the tangle of their lives together was gone as surely as if it never occurred. It was a much more satisfying separation than divorce had ever been. The residue that had infected his relationships, his life after that divorce, the recursive torment of what might have been, all that was gone.

His second wife was a more delicate operation. He found that there are limits to what one can change when one travels into the past. One cannot recover what fate has erased. Fate had erased his second wife.

He cured her of the horrible blood disease that had debilitated her, that had robbed her of her beautiful smile, that had wasted her voluptuous body, that had finally killed her. He arranged instead for her to die in a shocking, freak accident at the exact day and hour that fate had ordained. At least she didn’t suffer. He could remember her healthy, robust and happy, loving and being loved, until the last instant.

He was tempted to branch out, to correct the difficulties of a few others, but the past is a delicate fabric, and he had already changed much.

He moved his focus to the future, at first a much more simplistic, almost cartoonish landscape populated with vague stick figures who only gained flesh once one gave them close attention. He found a small cottage in a country setting where he would spend his advanced old age. He contrived that he would be fit and engaged. His mind would be sharp and his fingers still nimble. He lined up some neighbors, not too close, who would be helpful, but respectful. He negotiated with Fate to be kind.

He surveyed his work from the wooden chair in the kitchen of his third-floor apartment and felt pleased.

The phone rang.

“Steven, it’s Betty.”
“Betty who?”
“Don’t be an asshole, Steven. Why do you always have to be an asshole? We’re not married anymore, so just cut the shit.”
“You must have the wrong number,” he said.

He replaced the phone in its cradle. As an afterthought, he pulled the wire from the back of the phone. He gazed out the kitchen window, past the rusted fire escape, across the brick-strewn, vacant lot, at a line of stunted vegetation on the far edge. He thought about his cottage, his diffident neighbors.


J. Lee Strickland is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. He is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and served as a judge for the 2015 and 2016 storySouth Million Writers Awards. He recently learned that he is short-listed for the Anne LaBastille Memorial Writers Residency, and now spends his time waiting for the other shoe to drop. His sorely neglected website, including a blog and links to some online works, can be found at: https://jleestrickland.wordpress.com/

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Time For Reaping

by Tianna G. Hansen

You spend time planting each seed delicately. Cup the earth around each pearl so it flourishes. Nourish and take care until you feel them blossom and burst forth blooms of brilliant color. Saplings respond to the way the moon moves, just as your body sways with tides of dappled waves. Stars drip from the sky like icicles. You are not destroyed; it is time to harvest. Reap what you have taken time to sow. Healing is a solo act. No one can witness the seed spread beneath the ground, only the moment it presses its softness through the surface toward the sun.

Open your mouth wide, consume rays which reach down to touch; feel the curl of grasping fingers. Roots have grown deep in the pit of your belly. Feel them sink deeper, embrace your bones. Climb through your ribcage like ivy in a warm, constricting hug. When it comes time, devour your harvest whole. Weep the juices, flush your system, and cleanse your body’s deepest grottos. Daybreak radiates each eclipse, soil moist and ready for the next planting — your newest cultivation.


Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life. Her fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction have found homes in numerous mags, and she releasing her debut poetry collection ‘undone, still whole’ with APEP Publications this Beltane. She founded and is Editor-in-Chief of Rhythm & Bones Press/Lit Mag. Follow her work on Twitter @tiannag92 / IG @tgghansen24 / FB @tiannaghansen. More at CreativeTianna.com.

The Road Taken

by KSN Hridayanka

The choice lay there,
Right in front of her,
Between two paths
The best of which,
She hesitated to choose.
Neither could she decide,
Nor had the ability to infer
What the universe conspired
When she seemed tired.

She took her time
Analysing each road
And every other curve,
On how it would mould,
And gift her a dime.

There came a point
She knew it clear
Which path to choose
And which to avoid.
Yet she stood there,
Waiting for destiny to pull her
Towards that one road
She was hesitant to choose.


Hridayanka is an undergraduate student of Biotechnology. Writing is her passion, and poetry a chance to find her true self. What started as a method to uplift her mood has today become a field of interest that she’s currently exploring and learning bit by bit everyday.