A Rift in Time

by Mikhail Strannik

A Rift in Time

Asya was doing her homework, listening from time to time to the sounds coming from the street. During the second half of September, it was already getting dark. The day was ending, but she still hoped to go for a walk. Asya attended school on the second shift, but the next morning was supposed to be busy, and she had to do all the tasks within the evening. Asya’s parents have not returned from work yet. Her cat was dozing on the couch. It was a fully grown female cat of four years old. Suddenly, the lights in the room went out, and Asya felt dizzy. She turned in her chair and saw that there were two absolutely identical smoke-colored cats on the couch.

“Cerceau!” she called.

The both cats raised their heads and meowed inquiringly. The girl closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again. The lights were on, and her cat was alone on the couch. Asya turned back to her exercise book, but to her surprise, the sheets were blank except the date, which was not today’s one but of about two weeks ago. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Asya took her assignment notebook. The last set of tasks written there was from two weeks ago too. It was unbelievable, but everything indicated that she somehow has found herself two weeks into the past. Well, if it was that way, then she would have time to do her homework the next morning. So she could go for a walk now. Asya glanced at her watch. It was seven o’clock already. If she wanted to play in the neighborhood, she shouldn’t delay it. Asya got dressed and went outside.

Not far from her house, she saw some boys surrounding a tall poplar. They cheered on their friend who was climbing toward the crown of the tree.

“He will fall down and break his arm!” Asya remembered and took a step forward to warn the boy.

But then she stopped herself, “Firstly, no one will listen to me, and secondly, we should not change anything in the past, otherwise the future will change!..” So Asya calmly approached the boys and witnessed how one of them fell from the poplar before he reached its crown. The boy was crying and grabbing his injured hand. Asya shrugged her shoulders, looking how his friends led him home. She joined other children who animatedly discussed what had happened.

“That’s crazy,” Asya thought, “Now I have to ensure that nothing will change. Otherwise, the reality will become different—not at all like the one I was used to. And even worse that I can’t remember in details everything happened in the last two weeks.”

“Don’t worry, I will help you,” she heard a voice inside her, “I will help you to not do stupid things.”

“Who are you?!” Asya exclaimed in surprise.

“I am the Keeper of Time,” the stranger answered, “That’s how you can call me. In fact, my name is quite different. But this is not so important. Now you will return home and turn on the TV. There will be an interesting movie. Your parents will come home later than usual today, and no one will disturb you. But before the movie, you should feed your cat. Is that clear? Go.”

Asya was lost in though, and then she returned home. Cerceau greeted her with a demanding meow. Asya had to feed the cat quickly. After that, the girl turned on the TV.

“Channel V,” the stranger’s voice prompted her.

She switched to that channel and saw a movie’s opening credits.

March 15, 2023.

Translated from Russian by Maxim Sviridenkov.

About the author

Mikhail Strannik

Mikhail Strannik is the pen name of Mikhail Dymshyts, a Russian poet and fiction writer. Born in 1969, he graduated from the First Moscow State Medical University in 1995. His first book of poems On the edge of reality (Na grani realnosti) appeared in 2010. Since then he has published more than a dozen books of poetry and fiction for children and adults. Mikhail is a member of the Writers’ Union of Russia. For his literary work, he was awarded several Russian prizes, including Nekrasov Prize and Chekhov Prize. He lives in Moscow, Russia.

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