We recently published Sutton Strother’s gorgeous “Palimpsest.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) The story opens with the narrator having built a time machine. Have you ever tried to build one of your own?
I’m perpetually building or maintaining all kinds of time machines. The act of writing is one of those. With most pieces, I’m mentally revisiting people and places and events from the past so that I can reexamine them and their meaning, or imagine them differently, or extract or splice bits together, spinning them into something more fictionalized but still true. Also, I’m a 90’s kid and a sucker for nostalgia, the more specific the better. I’m forever trying to turn the internet (and especially YouTube) into my own personal time machine. If you checked my YouTube history right now, you’d see a bunch of old commercial compilations from Nickelodeon as well as some 90’s camcorder footage of my local amusement park, shopping mall, and Christmas parade. I grew up in a small Appalachian town that I don’t get the chance to visit very often as an adult, so revisiting those childhood memories is a way of going home again. Coping with anxiety is a bit like being a time traveler, too. A piece of your mind exists in this kind of permanent “darkest timeline” alternate future, where whatever you can imagine going wrong has gone wrong. Meanwhile you’re maybe going to therapy and traveling back in time there, unearthing root causes and patterns of behavior, and somehow attempting to also live mindfully in the present moment. By necessity, your brain becomes an intricate time machine that you must learn to carefully calibrate. It can be exhausting, but eventually you get closer and closer to mastering time travel, and that’s pretty cool.
2) Do you think the children who were sent into the future have gone into a bright world, thanks to their siblings?
I hope so, or at least a brighter one. Even with time travel and the best intentions, it would be impossible to undo every historic evil, and science fiction has taught us that things can easily go sideways when you mess with time. It would stand to reason, too, that if some of the parents were unmade by the children who reshaped history, then some of the children might have been unmade as well. But for those who did go forward, I’d like to think that the good intentions and successful actions of their siblings counted for something. Maybe they didn’t fix everything, or even come close, but given the enormity of the messes we’ve made, if those children did enough to ensure that there’s any kind of habitable future, maybe that’s good enough.