A slither of sunlight broke through the gap in Toby Botrill’s curtains and beat down on his face. His mother knocked on his bedroom door and entered his room to make sure he was awake. Satisfied, she closed the door behind her and Toby lay in bed rubbing his eyes, thinking about what could have gone wrong. He had not just double checked but had triple-checked everything. Pulled by gravity, his arms flopped down to his sides, lightly bouncing on his mattress. His feet wiggled, and he bit down on his bottom lip. Toby sought answers and inspiration by staring at the posters hanging on his bedroom walls. He couldn’t understand all of the words on the one closest to his bedroom door, but the black background made the colourful pictures of our solar system stand out enough to give Toby some idea of the order and size of the planets. On the wall above his bed, a spaceship moved through a tunnel in space with Toby unable to make sense of most of the bold words above it. His mother, however, would read the words to him before going to sleep each night, so he knew that the last two words were ‘time’ and ‘machine’.
Three mornings of failed attempts in a row, Toby had carried his tired body over to his machine to check for any improvements he could make. The first thing he did was to inspect the date above the entrance, making sure the numbers were painted in the correct order. That was a mistake he wanted to only make once, so now his mother double checked the numbers before he enters the time machine each night. The bottom of the door needed some encouragement to form a complete seal, but Toby solved this problem by inventing a handle and latch system that allowed him to close the door from the inside, keeping it from swinging open by tying a unique, light-weight material to the interior wall. After inspecting each of the smaller parts of the handle, he dragged his step ladder over and climbed up to examine the top of his time machine. There didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. The green and blue buttons Toby pressed to tell the machine to move forward or backward through time were attached and in sound working order. Toby again congratulated himself at the thought of placing these buttons out of reach so that they could not accidentally get pressed. He climbed down from his step ladder and made his way to the rear of the machine, where he saw exactly what the problem was.
Every time the sun came out, his mother would take him to a building filled with younger children who were experiencing the same loss, some dealing with it better than others. When it was dark, however, and the sun was nowhere to be seen, he was allowed to stay home. He designed this machine to take him back to when they could both stay home, regardless of what the sun wanted. So, each night, Toby would check everything was in working order. He then snuggled into the blankets and pillows on the floor of his time machine, hoping to wake up to the sound of his mother telling him she could stay home with him all day. They could draw pictures and do puzzles. They could dance and make up funny songs, and there was always the possibility of a bike ride or a visit to the park. For the last three mornings, however, Toby woke up to the sun mocking him and his mother, dressed in a blue and white uniform, demanding that he get himself dressed so that she could whisk him away to wherever the sun now wanted him to go.
While the other kids played, Toby spent a majority of his day using crayons to redesign his spaceship and, by the time he got home, he knew exactly how to fix the scratches left on the back go his time machine by his so-called pet cat. His mum helped him fix the extra-strong gravity-grade space-tape to the rear of the machine before Toby got into his pyjamas, kissed his mother and curled up on the blankets at the bottom of his time machine. Before switching off the light, Toby’s mother read to him from the poster above his bed.
“Our memories are the messages from the past. You need not look any further than your mind for the technology to build your own time-machine.”
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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