“Emergency Instructions” by R.M. Cooper

Issue 82 Cover shows Chris Bovery print of a bridge in pink and blue with Willow Springs in decorative font.

Found in Willow Springs 82

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I.	REMEMBER: You will never convince them why you did it.
        A. Everyone believes hypotheticals about time machines right­-
            ing wrongs.
            i.   E.g., you should find/kill baby Hitler (you aren't a baby­-
                 killer) or snuff the match that started the Chicago fire 
                 (it's probably in the common interest that Chicago is no 
                 longer made of balsa wood).
            ii.  There are things you don't have the stomach for, and 
                 there are things that happen for a reason, and history is 
                 filled with both of them.
       B.  Everyone wants/believes in time travel.
            i.  In a recent survey asking, What future technology 
               are you most looking forward to? 85% answered C) Time 
               1.  Second was B) Cure for Disease (9%).
               2.  A) Flying Cars and D) Space Travel combined for less 
                    than 6%.
          ii.  Time travel in application only works once.
              1.  Not once per machine. Not once per person. Once, per 
                   keeping space/time from folding into itself like an 
                   existence-crushing origami swan (discounting multiple 
              2.  This is problematic (see I. A & B).
II.	Set the date to 4:13 p.m., May 4, 1977, and leave it.
III.	Don't get lost in the novelty.
        A.  In addition to everyone else on the ball field, you will see 
             Benny Jennings in left field (dead, car accident, '83), Floyd 
             Gilmore at shortstop (dead, throat cancer, '12) and your 
             brother-in-law Connor pitching (not speaking, Christmas, 
             i.  The moment will change if you try to warn Benny or 
                 Floyd  about their death(s). Ditto for Connor (who was 
                 a prick before and after '97; if it wasn't the chocolate 
                 pudding, it would've been something else).
            ii.  If you change anything, you might miss Tess.
        B.  Don't do anything.
             i.  Don't bury a 2029 quarter in the dirt for the sake of 
                 scientific masturbation.
            ii.  Don't try to talk to your past self and cause a paradox­-
                aneurism in nine-year-old you.
           iii.	Mathematics says nothing about the divergence of real-
              ­  ity(ies).
        C.  Act like you've been here before. (You have.)
IV.	Observe.
        A.  After finding your clothes in the luggage compartment:
             i.  Move quickly.
                 1.  It's a five-minute jog between the garage and ballpark.
                 2.  This will leave you twenty-five minutes at the park to 
                      catch Tess.
            ii.  Find somewhere secluded with a view behind first.
                 1.  Tess will emerge from the home dugout to argue with 
                      Connor on the mound. (Five minutes later, the game 
                      will be called for rain.)
                 2.  From behind first, you'll have a good view of yourself 
                      at third.
           iii. Stay out of sight: the game was called once when a home-­ 
               less man pissed over the right field fence, and Joey White 
               was skittish ever since. (Your hanging about might draw 
        B.  Do's and Don'ts:
             i.  Don't focus on Connor and Tess's argument. (Expect 
                 screaming and a few tears.)
            ii.  Don't think about Tess in terms of the past/future. (For-­
                 get the night you spent together on the hood of your 
                 Ford; forget the day beneath the elms; forget your child 
                 staring up at you with her eyes; forget the months 
                 of Tess at the  hospital;  forget  the  tests;  forget  words 
                 like tumor(s), aggressive, genetic, inoperable; forget the 
                 sound of ventilators pumping air in and out of her; for-­ 
                 get the way she felt in the end, already so weak that you 
                 couldn't feel when they turned off the machine.)
           iii.  You only have twenty minutes;  you  can't  have  her 
        C.  Remember to look beyond Tess and Connor arguing. Focus 
            on (young) you standing at third. Look at your furrowed 
            brow. Look at the way you smack your glove impatiently. 
            Listen to the edge in your voice when you yell, "C'mon, 
            let's move this along." Watch the relief on your face when 
            Connor and Tess go quiet. Watch your smile when Connor's 
            kid sister leaves the mound. Watch the way you bend your 
            knees and squint, anticipating the next pitch. Memorize that 
            moment, the game, the pitch, you chasing a foul ball behind 
            third. Remember how time once passed as if that girl in the 
            dugout didn't mean a thing in the world to you.

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