by Erik Grayson
When I was six years old, I took an old transistor radio my father had given me, dismantled it, spread the pieces out on my little child's desk, and tried to figure out where each part would go to make the tiny contraption work again. When I found that I could not reassemble the radio, when I recognized that I had ruined my father's present, when I began to suspect that I had been foolish, I hatched a plan: I was going to go back in time, to the moment I had first clasped the radio in my hands and I was going to prevent myself from tinkering with it in the first place. With a renewed sense of purpose, I collected all of the pieces of metal and plastic, the bits of wire, and the faux-leather shell that had so recently housed these components, scooped the whole pile into my backpack and ran to the basement to find a hammer and the scraps of wood and the coffee can of nails I would need to transform the mound of useless radio parts into a time machine the likes of which even H. G. Wells could not have envisioned. Within fifteen minutes, I had built the vessel that would transport me from the present to the past, and I steeled myself for the journey. Following a tense countdown, I closed my eyes, tugged on the black wire that would activate the machine, and went nowhere. Discouraged, I abandoned my plans and neglected to consider, until this moment, the very distinct possibility that the red wire would have done the trick.
Erik Grayson, author of A Mind of Summer, lives and works in upstate New York.