This month’s New Voices Revisted story is the one-of-a-kind “My Sam and I” by Nick Fuller Googins. In this tale, a husband and a wife decide to become stowaways on a train ride across Canada, as the wife develops her formula: one that, she hopes, will stop time.
“Our time will slow, ooze like spilt honey. Our mornings will split open even wider than before, exposing their hidden fibers. My Sam and I will have conversations that span seasons. Our gazes and touches will unfurl and stretch, enjoying the kind of space ordinarily reserved for entire lifetimes. We’ll forge a new infinity, My Sam and I.”
T = 1- [f(n) + (o) + (w)]
where T = time
There’s My Sam, standing shirtless in the boxcar doorway, watching the forests and lakes shoot by. Hands on his hips, sunlight whitening his body. I call him the half-naked hobo king of Canada.
No way, he shouts. Not Canada, just Ontario. Ruling more than one province would be way too much trouble.
His voice, his laugh, carries over the rush of the train. He holds his arms out wide, tilts back his head, says something about swallowing the sky.
Careful, I tell him. Remember to chew. Don’t choke on those clouds. You’ll be picking rainbow out of your teeth for weeks. Indigo gets stuck worse than corn on the cob.
There are no clouds, no rainbow. The color blue owns the morning sky. But this is how My Sam and I see things now, amid the thrill of illegal freight-train travel: the sky becomes breakfast. We measure, discuss and admire the sights and sounds in nonsensical and amusing ways. It’s delightful.
It’s called imagination, teases My Sam, and we laugh.
That’s me at the far end of the boxcar, hair tied in two loose braids, fingertips smudged in black marker. The inside of our boxcar has become my blackboard, my traveling laboratory. We roll west and my formula goes with us, rows of numbers unfolding across the walls.
We only wanted to do something different, My Sam and I, riding boxcars from Quebec to Calgary. Crossing Canada as stowaways on the back of a freight train—land blurring by, wheels clunking along the tracks, air sweet with pine, hay and dew—and it never grows old, not for a second. But somewhere between Quebec and Ontario something else happened, something more thrilling than the ride itself: I discovered how to stop time. Almost. My formula still needs fine-tuning. I’d thought it was a matter of getting T down to zero. I hadn’t considered, until now, a further possibility. Imagination, playfulness, laughter—all could contribute toward negative T: time folding back upon itself.