“Will I tell you yesterday?” The child mumbled against encroaching sleep.

“You will.” His mother stroked his sweaty forehead.

“I don’t want to forget.” He rolled away and shivered.

“You won’t.” The mother pressed her eyes shut. She refused to cry again. “I love you.”

The boy rolled over once, twice. He groaned. He slept.


Shouts startled Martine awake.

“I’m here! I’m from the future! I’m going backwards!” David rushed into the bedroom. “Do you believe me? Did I tell you already?” He gasped.

Martine sat up. “You’ll tell me a long time ago. You’re safe. You won’t collapse for a long time.”

The boy sagged in relief. “I’m sick of losing things.” He sat on the bed and slumped. “I hate being a kid. I hate crying.”


David flipped through the stations as Martine drove. “Oh. That’s right. Denzel’s Washington hasn’t released any albums yet. Trust me, you’re going to love them. Great band.”

Martine smiled. “Tell me about the girl you married.”

“Now, that wouldn’t be fair.” David wagged a finger. “I’ll tell you the rules, won’t I?”

“You will, but you can’t blame a mother for trying. I want to know if I’ll like my in-laws!” She shook her head. “Besides, it’s not like we ever have regular conversations. Most kids haven’t lived their future.”

David grinned. “Well, I can still tell you what happened at school once the day’s over. It’s nice finding out all the stuff the test was on, even if I already took it.” He peeked into his lunch box. “You packed celery and peanut butter, right?”

“Yes, but I don’t see the point.”

“Neither do I, but Charlie told me tomorrow about something funny happening with the celery and the peanut butter. I can’t wait to find out what he was talking about!”

“For hating being a kid, you sure like school.”

David shrugged. “Once I’m awake, I can deal with it. Waking up is always the worst. I forget that I have time yet. I mean, this is just the way it is. I know my brain will collapse when I get young. When the physical structure regresses, I’ll lose the ability to think. Like Alzheimer’s for you downstreamers, I guess. Except I know about when it’s going to happen.”

Martine pulled up to the school. “You don’t have to go. You could stay home if you wanted.”

“You’ll offer that every day until I get into high school and finish dating. Relax, Mom. I’ve been doing this a long time.” He popped open the door. “Besides, I can’t wait to find out what happens with the celery and the peanut butter!”


“Ah, Ms. Thompson. Thanks for coming in. We had an incident with your son today, and we should probably talk.” Principal Perlman gestured Martine to a chair. “It wasn’t anything catastrophic, so you don’t need to worry. It was just odd, is all.”

Martine offered an exhausted smile. “David’s unique.”

“Well, yes. After the incident last year with the tests, I think we’ve learned to expect strange things.” The principal sat behind his desk. “Today David got into a fight when one of his classmates called him ‘neat.’ Don’t worry, there was no harm, but we’re going to have to suspend him for five days.”


“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to be suspended?” Martine forced her voice to stay steady.

“Look, I didn’t even know what would end the suspension. Now I know: a fight!”

She glared.

“Sorry!” He ran his hand through a mop of blond hair with a sigh. “I’m sorry. I forgot that ‘neat’ is still an okay word. When I was old, it was a real bad thing.” He frowned. “Real bad. Sometimes stuff just reminds me of back then, and I forget.” He sighed. “It won’t happen again.”

“I can’t believe this. You’ve never done anything like this before!”

“That proves it’s the last time I’ll do it. Looks like I finally learned my lesson.” David grinned. “Sorry about next time.”

They were silent for a moment.

Martine sighed. “So, what happened with the celery and peanut butter?”


He wrote. Every evening he wrote. “I don’t want to forget when my brain collapses.”

“But this won’t be here for you yesterday.”

“Maybe not, but it’ll tell me tomorrow that there is a yesterday for me to go to.” He looked away from the computer. “And the day that I don’t write here, I’ll know my yesterdays are done.”

Martine asked, “So, is there an entry for yesterday?”

“You know there is.”

“So you don’t have to worry. Not yet.”

He hit save. “Sure, but if I don’t get in the habit now, I won’t do it yesterday.”

After a moment of silence, Martine sighed. “You go one direction, I go the other. We just take it one day at a time. For each of our times.” She embraced David. “I wish I could protect you.”

“I know Mom. And you did. I love you.”


Martine left David’s bedroom. He finally slumbered.

She sat in front of her computer and shook the mouse. Start menu. Recent items. Movie file: “David’s First Word.”

On the screen, a baby crawled toward the camera. He reached toward it with a smile. Martine heard her own voice from the speakers: “You’re so fast! My baby!”

The baby smiled. “Love!”

Martine refused to look at the date stamp. She whispered, “You’ll always remember, David. Even yesterday. Even years of yesterdays.”

Jonathon Mast is a pastor in a small congregation in Wisconsin. In his free time he tells stories with his children and writes some of them down.

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 average 2 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I’m still trying to get my head round the complicated use of tenses in this intriguing tale. The Benjamin Button-esque plot is interesting and at the same time poignant. We never do find out what went on with the celery and peanut butter though.

  • Jeniene

    I really enjoyed this story even as I struggled to keep up (keep back?) with the tense switches. The most obvious reference is Benjamin Button but this had an even greater emotional component. Nicely done!

  • Whoa, head spin. Well done, Mr. Mast. Worked out well for flash. Interesting idea, the brain collapse. Good read.

  • Tina Wayland

    I don’t think it was the unique use of tense that was confusing–I actually thought it was utterly fascinating and a very interesting way of looking at a story (it reminded me of Mork and Mindy’s son Mearth, of all people!). Unlike most tales, this one forces you to constantly re-think what you know and to pay closer attention to what’s happening. The only confusing part, to me, was the overuse of this tactic now and then.

    That said, I really loved this piece. As a mother, I could see how heartbreaking it must be to know you’re going to lose your child–even if life isn’t winding down but winding backwards. The emotions in this one are so subtle and strong. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Wonderful. Five stars.

  • A tour de force! Well done and really fascinating.

  • Pingback: All My Yesterdays Will Come | Seeking the New Earth()

  • Wonderful idea, but a bit tricky to follow.

  • JenM

    Wow, I love this. Five!

  • Many thanks for the compliments! I appreciate it! I’ve got three children, so the thought of losing them hits me hard, too.

  • Joanne

    Oh my goodness this is lovely!

  • And here I was thinking Doctor Who and River Song. Spoilers!

  • Carl

    Neat! (So to speak.) I was thinking of Merlin in “The Once and Future King” more than Benjamin Button. I’m trying to decide whether it’s possible to have a conversation at all in these circumstances. There was also a story in Analog many years ago (can’t remember the title or the author) of humans trying to communicate with anti-matter aliens (who perceived time passing in a different direction), and generally failing at it. Must be the “one day at a time” line is key to the situation here?

  • EPMatthews

    An excellent story: intriguing, puzzling, incredibly intricate, and yet Mr. Mast has such a strong hand on the tiller I never felt I was going to bump into any submerged mistakes. Reminded me of Dr. Who and River Song, for sure!

  • girlinveil15

    it’s like a spiral my head spinned twice then back again, complicated stories show ur complicated thinking isn’t it:-) but its very well written in puzzle form

  • James Crofoot

    I really liked the way you played with time in this. very very cool