Tobias…or not Tobias…that is the question

(If not for the courage of the fearless crew…)

Miene Leibling Literati

As you know the Towers that are A Word with You Press now hosts  DimeStories, meaning you don’t have to go to San Diego to find an audience.  Join us May 17th at 6:30 and the third Friday of every month at 802 South Tremont St. in Oceanside in the tsunami evacuation zone.

Jon Tobias, a great young writer and past winner of one of our monthly writing contests (“I’m All Shook up”) has been attending Dimestories down south and wrote this three-minute wonder.

Simple premise: write a story with a beginning, middle, and end that can be read in under three minutes.  We record all the stories and the best are sent to DimeStories central in I’llbequirky, New Mexico. Best stories make it to NPR (

I have not read his story:  I just put it up so I can be as shocked/delighted/disgusted/amazed/impressed/enlightened, etc, as you who are about to read it.

Leave a comment and send us your own story, or join us here–even better.


Thanks Jon.


Jon Tobias

Saturday at 2:17pm ·

  • Here is the dime story I wrote for yesterday. I didn’t go because they changed locations and times. I am not sure this story does everything I wanted it to, but I did write it pretty quickly and I haven’t really edited it. Check it out if you’ve got 3 min. Facebook doesn’t copy paste format very well.
  • **************************

    Every morning James goes out into the small manmade island in the middle of the lake. Today is the first day he has taken me. The island is often empty. In vacationing times, there might be people hiking through it, but more often than not, James has his own playground of forest to make his own, which normally keeps him out of my hair.
    He steers the boat, and I sip my beer and run my fingers through the water.
    “What are you trying to show me? It’s not going to take long is it?” I finally ask him.
    “I’ve invented time travel,” he tells me.
    “What? Is this like a bridge to Terabithia type thing?”
    “What’s a bridge to Terabithia? Is it like an interdimentional link?”
    “It’s a book. Where do you time travel to?”
    James pulls us into the dock and hops out while I finish my beer and sling the cooler over my shoulder.
    He waives me over. His hair has become shaggy, his face and hands are spotted with dirt. I am going to give him a haircut when we get back.
    “I don’t know. I go back when I am older, after I have invented it.”
    It is a straight path to the tree he wants to show me. He points out markers he has made so that he can never get lost. I remind him that we are on an island, and that you can’t get lost.
    James points to a hole in the tree that has been packed with moss.
    “When I am older, I will become a scientist and work for NASA. I am going to invent time travel, and if I do, I am going to leave a note in the past inside this tree proving I did it and that I can do it. Then I know I can save everyone.”
    I begin to laugh a little as I crack open another beer.
    “What if there is never a note?”
    “There already is.”
    “What did you go back for,” I ask.
    “Ever since mom and dad died, and you got stuck taking care of me, you just drink and look sad all the time. I can’t stop dad from getting sick, so then I can’t stop mom from killing herself. I can stop you from ever being born though. You won’t be so sad then.”
    I set the beer down. “You plan on killing me?”
    “I plan on stopping all these bad things from happening to you. It makes you mean.”
    He reaches inside the tree and pulls out a dirty, old looking piece of paper, and then he hands it to me.
    I crumple it up in my fist and try to punch him. I fall from the momentum. Maybe it’s the heat of the morning, but I feel drunk. I instantly regret trying to hit him, but he has already run off so that I cannot say that I am sorry. I stare at the piece of paper long enough that I hear the faint hum of the boat’s motor as it revs up.
    I open the note. In cursive that I don’t recognize, the note says, “I am sorry. Things will get better. I promise.”



2 thoughts on “Tobias…or not Tobias…that is the question

  1. Glclark says:

    Wow, John. We’ve missed you and this story is exactly why. You said you’re not sure this story did exactly what you wanted it to do. I can’t imagine anything more the story could have accomplished – brotherly love played out to the end in so few words. Thanks for sharing this story and I’m looking forward to a lot more from you.

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