“Palimpsest” by Sutton Strother

After I built my time machine, I collected lovers across millennia – women with mechanical arms and regenerating cells, thick-bearded men perfumed with cave damp.

One by one I carried them home with me. We threw parties, traded knowledge, made love in unthinkable configurations.

A Sumerian prostitute soon fell pregnant with the child of a Union soldier. We named their daughter Palimpsest, for the stories layered in her blood. Each child born thereafter we called by that same name – Palimpsest – because it never stopped being true.

Once our children had grown, brilliant and well-loved, we scattered them like stars across the black sky of time.

Some we flung backward to unmake old evils. On occasion their names turned up in our history books, the text rewriting itself to tell happier tales. Our children unmade some of us along the way, too, descendants of atrocities they’d erased. We grieved but never judged too harshly. We worried more for the children we’d flung forward, for we never saw them again. In our many tongues, we whispered prayers into the future. We hoped each prayer would find them out and write the proof of our love onto their skin in luminous overlapping tattoos.


“Palimpsest” first appeared in Milk Candy Review, 2019

IMAGE: Hilma af Klint “Group IV, The Ten Largest, No. 2, Childhood”, 1907. Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas, 124 x 92 in (315 x 234 cm). The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm

Sutton Strother

Sutton Strother is a writer and instructor living in New York. Their work has been featured in various publications including, most recently, Uncharted, HAD, and X-R-A-Y Lit. Find them tweeting @suttonstrother and read more of their work at suttonstrother.wordpress.com.

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