The thing was they could never prove it. That’s what happens when you’re in the business of messing with the future. Sometimes the records can get lost, or mangled, or manipulated, because under the pretty pictures, it’s all just numbers. It’s so mathematically complicated, that if you’re clever enough with the numbers, then it takes someone just as crazy clever to figure out everything you did. And Reynolds never had his Moriarty.

He left the Bureau before they could hire someone to outsmart him. Said he’d had enough of manipulating things, said the technology was infantile and crude. Really it was because he was spooked. She died anyway, four weeks and three days after he’d moved and changed over one thousand four hundred little things to redirect the outcome of that one day. Instead of being hit by the grocery lorry on the corner of her street, her coat was caught in the doors of the subway train, and she’d been dragged along the subway platform into the wall. As if she’d had a marked card. Maybe not that day, but this quarter, or this year. We were trying to prove that there was no fate, no God, no controlling hand, and time and time again, we uncovered these ‘unchangeables’, things that kept playing out in the same way. Was it just maths? You slice a circle and you get pi, every single time. Is it the same? Or is it something else?

No one has any answers, least of all Reynolds, and his desire not to even think about the question anymore is the reason he’s now living in a one room apartment in Soho, under the name of Tom Green, clearing dustbins for a living.

2 thoughts on “Reynolds

  1. Wow. This is a very powerful piece. I happen to love sci fi, but I think that even a non-sci-fi reader would enjoy this short. My fave line is: “You slice a circle and you get pi, every single time.”

    I don’t know if I am going to open up a can of worms here, but I have had numerous discussions with one of my friends about the voice of a writer being feminine or male. I think this piece has a male voice. My friend and I believe that a male voice in writing is preferable. There’s a spareness and elegance to a male voice that is just not present with a female voice. I know this sounds sexist, and I am “betraying” my sex making this statement publicly. But I was wondering what a writer thought about such an idea.

    By the way, we missed meeting you in London last week. I would have dearly loved to have met you. Maybe next time. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. That was my favourite line too, as it happens.

      Yes, it is a male character speaking. We had lots of discussions about this when I was doing my MA, about whether you could tell, and if you ought to stick to your own sex in writing. My own feeling is that if I’m writing from a male perspective, I strip out a lot of overt emotion, or commentary, and it’s more interesting to me to see what you can leave out but still say. Male voices are enjoyable to read because as the reader you often have more to figure out, I think. Active reading, if you like.

      Yes, I missed meeting you too, which I would have loved to do. Unfortunately I couldn’t find childcare, and the boy was so tired from our holiday in Wales that he slept for three hours that afternoon, so I would never have made it in time. So sorry I didn’t get around to emailing you with a yay or a nay too. Next time I’m in New York I’ll see you in the garment district 🙂

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