Author : Ellen Couch

“Don’t you love me?” she asked.

“You know I do,” I said quietly, “but you’re not mine, you never really were.”

I could tell she didn’t understand- how could she? As far as she was concerned, we had the perfect life.

Late one night in the physics lab, working on my PhD (what else was there to do?), the idea for the Paradox Isolator had come to me. I knew it would work. Many months later, I tested it.

I was 13 again. I knew everything that 20 years of therapy and personal trainers had taught me. I kept the Paradox Isolator strapped to my wrist, keeping me safely in the same timeline I had come from, as I changed my life.

Then one day, 2 years after our wedding, the isolator did something very odd. Examining it in my shed, I shorted a circuit and saw the timelines I had stolen from. So many others, so much sadness. And I knew what it felt like, all of it, because it was mine. The one who had been fit and strong was fat. The one who had been confident at school was shy and scared. The one who had married Petra had taken sleeping tablets- a whole pack- when the loneliness got too much.

I had it all. Everyone said so. Now I knew why. I had taken it from them.

I thought it mattered when I changed my life- that it would be better if I had it all to do again. And it was. I wouldn’t have wished my old life on anyone, least of all myself. That was why I couldn’t do it to them.

“Petra, it’s been wonderful- you’re the only woman I’ve ever loved. But I can’t go on like this. It’s not fair.” Tears now stinging my eyes, I took out the PI.

“I don’t understand,” I heard her say as I smashed it on the laboratory table, “fair on wh-…”

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