Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds Read Online (FREE)
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How to Save No One
My face is mashed sideways against the trunk of a police cruiser when Kate dies for the third time. The box meant to save her life is smushed near my feet.
I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.
For instance: don’t waste time on clothes.
It’s cold out, easily sweater weather. I’m in short sleeves, plaid pajama shorts, and a pair of beat-up Chucks I wear to mow the lawn. The insides are damp, and there’s a clump of grass in my right shoe scratching my toes, but there wasn’t time for socks. Socks, and weather-appropriate attire, are a luxury. They take time. And I can’t waste any.
Because big lesson number one is this: all the time travel in the world can’t save the people you love.
45 Minutes Earlier
The police are already here.
A marked car, idling beside the emergency room entrance. There’s a chance they’re here for me, but there’s no turning back. Split seconds matter. I grab the small package sitting on the passenger seat and hop out of my car. I rip open the box, jam its contents into my sneaker. I pick up my pace.
I should’ve left earlier.
Should’ve done a hundred things differently this time around.
I push open the door, thinking, Get to the elevator, make it to the fourth floor, and then I run face-first into a concrete wall. Also known as colliding into three hundred pounds of beef and nightstick.
Ah, this must be the driver.
I nearly crumple onto the wet floor, except the officer snares me by my T-shirt.
“I got him,” he mumbles into the walkie holstered on his shoulder. “Back outside,” he orders me, pushing open the door, his other hand hugging his gun grip. “Come on, kid. Let’s go.” All sorts of things run through my mind—acts of valor, courage. I think about pushing past the officer and bolting for the stairs or slipping inside the elevator before it closes. But in the end my legs are spread apart, my hands cuffed behind my back.
Part of me thinks, wonders, hopes: maybe this is it. This is the solution. I’m not supposed to be there. If I’m not there, she’ll live.
They rattle off my crimes, and after breaking and entering, I stop listening. I don’t bother trying to explain, because how do you explain you’re from the future?
“. . . you understand your rights,” they say more than ask.
I nod, the aluminum trunk cool and sticky against my cheek.
“You have anything on you? Weapon, drugs, or the like?” the large officer asks.
“No,” I lie. Because I can’t tell the truth. Not now. Rough hands slide up and down my body. My keys jingle as he fishes them out of my pocket. Then he removes my wallet.
“Nothing interesting,” the large officer says to his female partner.