"Rewind" is a fictional short story that dives into the life of a man whose singular failure sends him into a relentless pursuit to remedy his past through the use of time travel.

Injected with humor, emotions, and life lessons, this is perhaps my favorite fictional short story I've ever written, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

Huff, puff, grunt, wheeze.

Sweat dripping from his chin, Scott had been working tirelessly in the garage, tinkering with tools, screws, and wires, to finish his latest creation. It was almost complete!

Scott had been rejected for a position he applied for, which was his dream job, and at his dream company. After working so hard to build a career and résumé tailored perfectly for the position, he was not ready to take no for an answer.

He glanced back at his computer, which was parked on a counter adjacent to his work table. His eyes narrowed on the opening of a displayed email:

"Unfortunately, we cannot offer you the position at this time, but we encourage–"


Scott tore his gaze away from the screen and refocused on his work. With renewed passion, he begun to work even faster.

For the past several days, all of his time was devoted to one specific purpose: finding a way to go back in time and redo his job interview, so that he could get the job offer.

He knew he shouldn't have stuttered so much.
He knew that if he had just phrased himself differently, he would've nailed it.

He decided to create a device that would allow him to time travel. One that looked like a remote control and functioned like one, except it worked in real life.

It had five buttons, consistent with the design of traditional remote controls. They all did what you would expect:

Rewind allowed for traveling into the past.
Play, well, played time at regular speed.
Pause froze time for everything except the user.
Fast forward allowed for traveling into the future at high speed.
The stop button was merely visual, since Scott saw no use for it when he had the pause button.

The device was brilliant, and Scott had even designed it so that when going back into the past, he would be replacing his past self in that timeline. This helped reduce complications with two existing copies of one human being.

However, it had one big flaw: it only had enough power to be used 10 times, and each button press counted as one use.

If Scott wasn't careful with counting, he could end up stuck in the past, or worse...

Clink! Chunk!

The finishing touches were almost complete. A little tighter here, a little adjustment there...

Scott took a few steps back from the work table, admiring his creation.

There it was,
glowing in the lamp light,
buzzing with power,
coaxing Scott to give one of its buttons a press.

But there was no time to waste! Scott remembered his goal to fix the job interview that went wrong.

"Alright, Rewinder, we have places to go," he declared as he started to get ready for the interview.

He decided that the name was fitting, and a fresh shower, a nice suit, and 5 miles later, Scott found himself at the doors of the company headquarters, with the Rewinder in his pocket.

He boldly thrust the doors open and started making his way over to the waiting area, where people would sit until it was time for their interviews.

The secretary at the front desk seemed rather surprised at this maneuver.

"Uh, sir? Is there something I can help you with?"

"No, not at all. This will only take a minute," replied Scott, as he took a seat. "I have an interview to get to."

The secretary checked her schedule book. "But sir, we don't have any interviews scheduled for today."

Scott met her confused stare with confidence, as he fished the Rewinder out of his pocket.

"Today? Who said anything about today?" he smirked.

He stared at his device and took a deep breath.

"Let's do this." And he pressed Rewind.

Chapter 2

At first, nothing happened.

And then, the secretary said, "yadot rof deludehcs sweivretni yna evah t'nod ew, ris tuB."

Scott quickly realized that the secretary was speaking backwards, which meant that the Rewinder was working!

"htiw uoy pleh nac I gnihtemos ereht sI? ris, hU?" The secretary babbled before sitting back down in her chair, preoccupied with work.

Scott smiled with glee as people in the office started walking backwards and printers started eating ink-filled paper and fed out fresh paper. People raised their mugs to spit coffee back into them, and one guy ran from the bathroom looking more anxious than when he went in.

Twiddling his thumbs, Scott counted the days backwards. He knew his interview was three days ago, on Tuesday, so all he had to do was wait for three days to pass, in reverse.

Fortunately, it didn't take very long, thanks to the Rewinder's powerful hardware. Just as 11 AM Tuesday came around, interview time, Scott pressed Play and sat up in his seat as a tall, broad-shouldered man came around the corner and asked the secretary, "Is Mr. Davis here?"

The secretary darted a glance at Scott, who beamed with confidence.

"Yes Chris," the secretary remarked. "He's right there!"

Scott and Chris shook hands and exchanged pleasantries, both once again and for the first time, and headed over to Chris's office.

"So, Mr. Davis, let's start this off with a little bit of an introduction. Tell me a bit about yourself!" inquired Chris.

"Please, you can call me Scott! As for the introduction, I have spent the last few years working with renown game developers to..."

And the interview was on.

Scott made sure to keep his composure and tried extra hard not to stutter or use too many "uhms" or "uhs."

Then, it happened.

As Scott was adjusting his position in his chair, the Rewinder in his pocket pinched his skin, and Scott cried out in pain, swearing instinctively.

"Ah! Motherfu–" Scott stopped himself, and looked up at Chris. Chris maintained a pleasant smile, but the atmosphere was different.

And nothing was the same after that moment.

When the interview was over, Scott knew he blew his chances because of the incident.

He had failed to keep his cool.

Brimming with anxiety, Scott went home to the garage and hit Fast Forward to three days later.

An email notification popped up on his computer screen. He frantically clicked on it and the first line read:

"Unfortunately, we cannot offer–"

"Dang it!" Scott shouted in frustration. "Stupid Rewinder pinched my skin and cost me the interview. Everything was going smoothly until that point!"

The remote had enough juice for 7 more uses, and Scott was determined to get that job.

Without skipping a beat, he hit Rewind until it was 9 AM Tuesday, pressed Play, and decided to give himself two hours to cool off before heading back in for another interview.

At 11 AM, again, Scott burst through the office doors as Chris came around the corner and asked the secretary, "Is Mr. Davis here?"

"Yes, I'm here!" blurted Scott, impatient. "I'm ready whenever you are."

Chris and the secretary exchanged glances.

"Very well then, let's head over to my office!"

Once inside, Chris began the interview. "So, Mr. Davis, let's start this off with a little bit of an introduction. Tell me a bit–"

"You can call me Scott, it's fine," Scott butted in, trying his best to keep his calm. He couldn't believe he had to do this interview a 3rd time.

Scott was careful not to get his skin pinched again, and he didn't swear or have any wild outbursts.

Once more after the interview, he went home and into his garage, and hit Fast Forward until three days had passed. Another email notification popped up on his screen.

Expecting victory, he clicked on it boldly.

However, to his horror, the email started with:

"Unfortunately, we cannot offer you the position at this time."

Chapter 3

After spending 10 minutes punching the pillows on his couch and cursing at the walls of his home, Scott was finally exhausted.

"What does it take to win, huh?" Scott growled. "It doesn't matter what I do, or what I don't do. I just can't get the job!"

Scott counted the uses left on the Rewinder: four. Four button presses before the device was unusable.

Then, it dawned on him. If he only had four uses left, he couldn't Rewind to the interview, Play in real time, and then Fast Forward more than once! It was all-or-nothing on the next attempt.

"Unless," Scott thought aloud. "Unless I simply Rewind, and Play, and wait out three whole days. Then, I can Rewind and Play again if I happen to mess up once more. This turns one last try, into two more tries!"

Although satisfied with his new plan, Scott decided to take a break, and try again the next day. Two interviews in one day was enough stress.

He went to the kitchen to make some spaghetti for dinner. It was his favorite meal, and he had all the necessary ingredients at home.

He blindly reached into the fridge and grabbed a jar of marinara meat sauce and boiled some pasta. When the pasta was ready, he opened the brand new jar of sauce, thus missing the old jar he hadn't finished.

Upon realizing his mistake, Scott was furious.

"Ugh, really!?" he roared. "I grabbed a new jar? I didn't even use up the old one yet!"

After taking some deep breaths, he calmed down.

"I really wish I grabbed the old one, but at least with new sauce, the spaghetti will taste better," he admitted. He finished crafting the perfect spaghetti dish, and devoured it heartily.

He placed the jar of sauce back in the fridge and wanted to see how much of the old sauce was left. He grabbed the old jar and his eyes ended up drifting over to the expiration date.

"Huh, this sauce expired a week ago," Scott realized. "I could've gotten sick if I used this one... Guess it wasn't so bad that I grabbed the wrong jar after all."

Scott went through his normal bedtime routine, but he laid awake in bed for longer than usual, going over perfect responses to every potential interview question.

He practiced his phrasing.
He caught himself whenever he stuttered or mumbled.
He exercised his best composure.

He had two more tries, but he was only going to need one.

Scott woke up the next day feeling refreshed, and he had slept well.

He made himself a delicious breakfast, went over his responses in his head one more time, took a hot shower, and put on his best suit.

Then, he pressed Rewind until it was 9 AM on Tuesday, again, and then hit Play.

"Heck, I'm going to bring Chris some coffee too!" Scott decided. "This is going to be the best interview ever, and nothing will go wrong!"

Scott bought a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee for Chris and drove to the office, filled with optimism.

He strolled through those doors glowing like the Sun. Chris once again came rounding the corner. "Is Mr. Davis here?"

"Yes sir, I am!" Scott grinned. "And I brought you a fresh morning cup of coffee!"

Chris was delighted. "Wow! No one I've interviewed has ever done this for me. Thank you!"

The interview couldn't have gone better.

Scott's performance was spotless. Perfect. Not a single stutter or murmur. Immaculate etiquette. Every question was answered with professional execution.

On the drive back home, Scott sang in his car with joy. He was on cloud nine. He couldn't have done a better job with his interview. The job had to be his now.

Slowly, but surely, three days went by.

On the third day, Scott's computer jingled, signaling a new email.

Scott flew into his garage, almost tripping over all the debris that still laid on the floor from the day he made the Rewinder.

His eyes widened as he clicked on the new email. Oddly, this one was different.

The email wasn't some automated, generic rejection letter. It was straight from Chris himself, and the first line read:

"I hope this email finds you well."

Chapter 4

Intrigued and confused at the same time, Scott continued to read.

"My interview with you was just about the best interview I've ever had with anyone. On top of that, you brought me coffee!"

"Okay, okay, where is he going with this?" Scott muttered under his breath, impatient and slightly irritated.

"While your credentials are exemplary and the interview was perfect, we unfortunately found someone who we consider to be better suited for the position.
However I can guarantee you a spot in this other position, where–"

Scott's blood began to boil. "All this writing and personalization, just for some roundabout way of telling me I got rejected? Again!?"

Scott ripped the Rewinder out of his pocket. "You're useless!" he screamed. "All that work... For nothing!"

And he hurled the Rewinder against the wall, before he considered what would happen...

If a button...

Were pressed.

The Rewinder stuck to the wall, as if the wall were made out of glue.

"W-w-what? What's going on?" Scott stammered nervously.

Outside the garage, the leaves stopped swaying in the wind.
A bird was frozen in flight.
A car was parked in the middle of the road for no reason.

And yet, Scott was still able to move, think, and talk.

This only meant one thing: time was Paused.

Scott slowly crept up to the Rewinder and gingerly reached out to it. It was faintly humming with energy as he peeled it off the wall.

He became aware of the predicament he was now in. With one more button used up, Scott could no longer both Rewind and Play one more time.

It was a done deal. It was over. No more interview tries.

"Oh no... What have I done?" Scott cried in despair as he fell to his knees, with his face buried in his palms.

After what felt like forever, he looked up at his worktable.

"I... I could create another one. Another Rewinder. One with more power and uses. One that wouldn't pinch my skin. One that..."

His voice faltered. He already knew what would happen. He already gave the interview his best shot.

It didn't matter how many times he went back. The answer was simply no.

Scott slumped into the cold, unforgiving floor of his garage, defeated.

But then, a thought slid into his mind:


"What? No." Scott pushed the thought away. "I'm not hungry. Why am I thinking of spaghetti?"

Then, he remembered the spaghetti incident from the other night. How he grabbed the wrong jar and wished he grabbed the right one, but how in grabbing the wrong one, things played out in his favor.

He let his thoughts unfurl some more. His dad, a genius and also an inventor, always told Scott about one thing in common between creations and and life:

"Maybe, it's not always about trying to fix something broken.
Maybe it's about starting over and creating something better."

Scott crawled back over to his computer. He never finished reading the email Chris sent him.

"I can guarantee you a spot in this other position, where you'll get to help drive innovation by creating and developing new products never before seen by the world. Like, imagine inventing time travel. I know that sounds crazy, but cool stuff like that, and on that level! What do you think?"

Sure, it wasn't the job of his dreams, but this didn't sound so bad either.

Maybe it was worth a shot, and maybe this other thing would play out in his favor too. Like the spaghetti incident.

Scott looked down at the Rewinder, which still rested in his hand. It stared back at him, as if waiting for one final command before it died.

He felt the corners of his mouth tug upwards.

"You know," Scott acknowledged. "This isn't the path I was expecting, but I think everything's going to be okay. There's no more going back; there is only what's ahead of me now."

Refueled with new hope for the future, there was only one thing left for Scott to do.

With a smile, he pressed Play.