Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

The Afterlife of Primrose Barns

The Afterlife of Primrose Barns
Photograph via Unsplash by Markus Winkler.

Sure, it was weird, but anyone who saw it on the local news called it a hoax. I mean, you can’t die in the past, and certainly not in your own past. Primrose Barns. Walking corpse.

Julia Barns was a city employee, never a toe out of line before, so when her daughter was prophesied to already be dead, she had some concerns. She spoke to doctors and lawyers. She spoke to healers and exorcists. Had her daughter dodged fate, missed her only chance at death?

It started on a perfectly normal September day. And then the same, perfectly normal day all over again. It’s hard to describe how time stops. Tries again. It’s not like a broken record. It’s not like anything. It was national news. No one was talking about Primrose Barns. Time staggered back. She turned un-eighteen. Went back to stealing cigarettes. Went back to prom. Threw a drink right in the face of the boyfriend who had ditched her for a girl he said was easier. Would ditch her. Tattoo ink poured from the band tattoo on her shoulder, and her nose spat out the ring. Overnight, her hair uncut from her shoulders to her hips. She turned un-seventeen. Still, time went back. Still, no one talked about Primrose.

The sun un-rose. Her stepfather’s car un-left the driveway. The music boomed. She un-walked home from model UN. His hands un-peeled from her wrists. He un-choked her. Bruises rushed back down into her skin. With four years of rage, she slammed her forehead into his nose. Blood un-poured.

He cracked her head against the tool rack, the floor. Blood pooled. Her heart ticked down, back.

The second hand ticked forward.