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Making Time For the Kids

Julion J. Soto was born in Camden, New Jersey and was transplanted to Park Slope, Brooklyn (a neighborhood where many successful writers live) when he was just 3 months old. He has been writing stories in his head for decades and has started putting these skewed tales on virtual paper in a serious way for the last few months; the result being one published credit (this one), and many rejections. He has been married to his beautiful, understanding wife for 10 years, and has two children ages 7 and 9 who are complete, devoted fans of his fiction. He presently resides in the Brooklyn neighborhood called Gravesend, which means "End of the Grove" (which is apt, since the author's last name Soto is the Spanish word for Grove). The author is presently working on his novel For This I Would Bleed which is set on Gravesend's mysterious streets; where sometimes the moon shines much too close, and you can see things that shouldn't be seen.

I ran hard from Billings Place to the East 2nd school yard and saw the sniper at the gate, shooting me in the gut, where I fell, died. It hadn't happened like this before; coming back, I'd changed things. I'd been a survivor of the massacre. Shit. I had no time to think about the ramifications of this change. Like a ton of bricks, I threw myself at the sniper before my kids were among the first casualties splattered all over the green top. I severed his spine with a bowie knife. When he fell forward I kicked his assault rifle away from his body, and grabbed my kids and ran from the yard, pulling Sarita and Manny hard behind me.
Hysterical, they looked up at me, "Dad? B-but?" I'd just died in front of them, but here I was, gray haired, 15 years older, saving them.
"It's Dad." I ran harder, pulling them home, just a few blocks away. My younger self hadn't faded completely, I thought I might disappear if I'd had, if he'd had. I didn't know, nobody did, but I was going to find out about time paradoxes and the butterfly effect in one fell swoop.
My kids were crying, I ignored them and rushed into my building minutes later, ringing the bell since I didn't have keys. Sara came down, so achingly beautiful, I threw my arms around her body. "Ronnie? What?" I kissed her face everywhere.
"Wait," she said, noticing the kids were crying, Sara pushed me away, noting the differences in me. I wouldn't let her go; after the massacre Sara had taken forty sleeping pills. After the massacre I'd become obsessed with time. After the massacre I'd lost my mind and somehow learned things I couldn't have learned before.
Sarita reached up and tugged at my shirt, "Papi? Daddy?" I pulled Sarita and Manny into an embrace. I started sobbing, "I missed you so much. I missed you so much."
Sara stopped pushing me, she hugged me harder, "What happened? Please," she started to cry then, and I shut my eyes, waiting to not exist, hoping I'd be able to stay. I didn't know.
And I didn't care. I'd saved them all. I'd saved them.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Author Comments

This story is a distillation of a longer 5,000 word piece I couldn't wrap my mind around for weeks. Thinking of the central problem for the story, and how a dad could get so focused and fanatical about the death of his children that he'd find a way to go back in time regardless of the consequences and his lack of understanding of physics, I had an epiphany one morning and suddenly had a strong visceral, and emotional connection to the idea of saving this man's children. And I swear to you, for a few seconds, Dear Reader, I had the trick of time travel firmly in my head. In that state of mind, I wrote "Making Time For the Kids."

- Julion J Soto
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