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Get It Right

"Honey, can you take out the trash?" I called from the kitchen.

"Right after the game, hon," my husband, Emmett, called back. I could hardly hear him over the surround sound roar of the crowd and the announcer's meticulous play-by-play commentary.

I let out an annoyed sigh, and brought my right hand toward my left wrist. I was beyond abusing Papa's gift at this point. There was no immediate need for the trash to travel to the can in the alley. Even if there was, there was no necessity for Emmett to be the one to take it there. My finger froze over the black metal curls of my bracelet. Once upon a time, they were the hour and minute hands of Papa's secret clock; now the arrows at each end passed each other on the underside of my arm, joined by a large, black circle at the top. Papa had been clear the magic should only be used in extreme emergencies. "Situations so rare and dire, I can't even think up a worthy example," he told me the day he bent the clock hands around my own.

But I had thought of reasons. I thought up so many reasons soon any reason was a reason. I was never late for anything again. Never caught anyplace I shouldn't be. My friends would marvel at my talent for always saying exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. I was spoiled, I realized, with no more self-control than a child in a candy store. I pulled my finger away from Papa's timepiece, ashamed.

I heard Emmett curse from his recliner.

"Everything ok, honey?"

"Another gat-damn interception!" Emmett screamed at either the television or me.

My shame was shaded by inspiration. Before I could think, my finger rubbed counterclockwise on the bracelet's round, black center. Just a little trip, I told myself. Not even a full thirty seconds back. After all, power not wielded is like a secret not shared, worthless.

Papa understood that even if he never admitted it. He had used his clock's power. He had told me his secret. Mom and Papa had wanted a child and the Lord gave them one. A strapping boy. My parents loved him. Spoiled him. When he was old enough, Papa showed the boy the clock. At first the boy was delighted, like any child still young and in love with his all-powerful parents. But as he got older, that awe turned to outrage. Papa had the power to prevent war and suffering, the power to be rich and respectable, why would Papa leave so much potential sitting in a dusty, old attic? Papa tried to explain how sensitive these things can be, how sometimes stopping one tragedy can create ten more, but the boy wouldn't listen. At night, Papa would catch him trying to sneak up the attic stairs, insisting they had to make the world a "better place." Whatever he thought that means.

So, Papa did what he had to. He used the clock and went back to the night his boy had been conceived. This time he delayed things with Mom awhile. That was all it took. A few minutes altered and nine months later, instead of a boy, out came me.

Cheers returned to the speakers. I counted the seconds once they went back to moving forwards. With a little help from the commentators, the timing was easy.

"Honey, can you take out the trash?" I called from the kitchen toward the TV.

"Right after the-oh, gat-damn it!"

"Everything alright?"

I heard the leather on Emmett's chair squeak and give. Then he was in the hall heading towards me with slouched shoulders and sad eyes.

"Another gat-damn interception," he said, dragging his feet as he shuffled past me. He started to tie off the top of the trash bag and added, "That new offensive coordinator…" but his criticism ended there.

I offered a sympathetic smile and held open the backdoor. "Don't worry," I said, as he made his way out to the alley. "They can always try again and get it right."

About the Author
P.J. Kryfko has been published as a comic writer, prose writer, journalist, and has written/produced two short films. His publishers include: Image Comics, Liars’ League NYC, Weirdpunk Books, the DFW Art & Words Show, and the Brooklyn Prose Bowl. AintitCoolNews.com calls his work "atypical and original." His Mom calls him "Handsome." You can find him online at pjkryfko.com or on Twitter at @pjkryfko.