Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Amanda Hard, author of “It’s Always Summer in Our Memory” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
Because I see science fiction as more of a forward-looking genre, I’m intrigued by the current trend of placing time travel stories solidly inside the fantasy category. What is the goal of a backward-facing time travel story, after all, but to right a past wrong? Or to set straight a series of past events that led up to an unsatisfying present?
Ray Bradbury, in “A Sound of Thunder,” warned of the ripple effects from meddling with the established time line. In that story, a stable present-day is destabilized by the smallest of actions by hunters traveling to the past. This short tale had a profound effect on me when I read it as a child, but re-reading it as an adult, with a lifetime of decisions behind me, made me long for the ability to go back a few years, a few months, even. What would you change if you had the opportunity to explain yourself, or ask forgiveness from that one person whose memory still haunts you? What from the present would you sacrifice for the chance to talk to, or hold the hand of, the person you once loved?
It was this question that prompted my contribution to the On Time anthology. Unlike those of us living under the limits of unidirectional time, the protagonist in my story, “It’s Always Summer in Our Memory,” is offered a chance to go back to a moment from her past, a moment I consider similar to one of those “restore” points in computer backup software. But going back always comes with a price.
The more I consider time travel (at least conceptually), the more I question whether it’s a good thing to reflect on these “restore” points and our ability to manifest any kind of change through manipulating them. How many of us would play out those minutes indefinitely, trying over and over again to achieve the desired effect? While I consider my story to have what is essentially an “up” ending, I can see how the desire to have back those moments we felt are lost can lead to a much more tragic conclusion. I am left thinking it is best that time flows one-way, if only to encourage us to savor all those pivotal moments of the present.
Amanda Hard’s work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies including Lost Signals and Tales from the Crust, both from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. Her poetry has appeared in two volumes of the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase, and her flash fiction was part of three graphic collections from The Daily Nightmare. Amanda earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Murray State University, Kentucky, in 2018. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and lives in the cornfields of southern Indiana with her husband and son.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.