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Time Machines

Melissa Mead lives in Upstate NY. She hasn't time-traveled yet. Her Web page is here: carpelibris.wordpress.com
The man burst into Jayon's antique store the instant it opened. Actually, he ran into the door first, because he was too impatient to wait for the scanner to register his presence. He plunged toward the counter, waving an advertising holosheet at Jayon.
"Is this ad true?" he gasped. "Do you really sell time machines? Actual working ones?"
"Sure! I've got several in stock at the moment. Nice retro suit, by the way. Where'd you find it?"
"Please, show me the time machines! Ever since the crash I haven't known when I am, where I'm going...."
"Yeah, that's the trouble with modern tech. One crash and you're in limbo." Jayon took out his latest acquisition, beaming with almost paternal pride as he held it up for inspection. "Isn't she a beauty? Real wood case, brass trim, keeps perfect time...."
His potential customer stared. "It's a clock."
"Yes, I've heard them called that. I've got watches too, if you're looking for something portable. Digital, analogue, ones that tell you the time in twelve cities."
The man looked about to cry. "I thought you meant... oh, never mind."
"Go on, tell me."
"I thought you meant time machines. For traveling through time. I know; it's stupid."
Jayon brightened. "Oh, you don't want a time machine. You want a Chronocar! I can sell you the one out front."
"I didn't see a car out front."
"Dang, I must've left it in invisible mode again."
The man's face flushed. "Look, I've got enough troubles without some wise guy making fun of me."
"I'm not making fun of you, sir! It's a standard anti-theft feature in all models made after--"
"Shut up! No, really, shut up." The man's mace crumpled. "I just want to go home."
He stormed out of the shop. Jayon took a deep breath, gently returned the clock to its shelf, and went out to switch the Chronocar into visible mode. Sadly, his distraught customer was long gone. But the Chronocar really was a beauty: flame red with real chrome trim. Someone was bound to want it, in time.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, July 15th, 2021


This story grew out of thinking how easy it is to talk about totally different things while using the same words, and how that can lead to major misunderstandings.

- Melissa Mead
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