When I was growing up, my father was tough on me. Curfews were enforced with military rigor, and anything less than an A-plus on my report card brought lengthy punishment. I would have done anything for him to say “Good job, son” even once, but that moment never came. I never understood why he did the things he did, until the day I went back through time and became him.

To be totally honest, before I warped through space-time to instantaneously voyage to 1972 to meet, court, marry, and impregnate the woman who would become my mother, I just thought that my father was an irrationally cruel and cranky man. But as I experienced everything my father did and gradually felt the pressures of raising myself as a child, I began to see the world through his eyes. Soon enough, the reasons for his decisions came into focus, because I was making those decisions.

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It took squeezing my mother’s hand as I watched myself being born to truly know what a responsibility welcoming a new life into the world is. I saw how helpless I was, and knew how dangerous the world can be. It was then I made the decision to keep me safe and protected, no matter how hard I had to be on me. It was that moment when it clicked: I truly and deeply loved me, and nothing, not even me going back in time and becoming my father 34 years later, was going to change that.

It took squeezing my mother’s hand as I watched myself being born to truly know what a responsibility welcoming a new life into the world is.

The old adage is true: We grow up to be our parents, and I’m no exception. When I was 8, I accidentally scratched my car, and when I found out, I yelled at me and grounded me for three weeks. And it was then I realized that I had truly become my father, because there no longer exists a timeline in which I haven’t always been my father.

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My relationship with my father completely changed when I finally altered the fabric of the universe to go back in time and become him. Now, we see much more eye-to-eye, and he tells me “I love you” all the time, because all I have to do is say it to me, for I am him. I have always been him.

I have yet to have a son of my own, aside from having myself as my father, but there are times I look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I’m just my as-yet-unborn son, who similarly went back in time to better understand me, his father. To monitor this possibility, before I went back in time and became my father, I wrote, “Son, if you’ve gone back in time to become me, leave me a note” on a slip of paper, sealed it in an envelope, and hid it under the floorboard in my childhood home—only someone who became me would know its location. I checked it every day to see if it had been opened, and just yesterday, it finally was. Inside, there was a new note that read: “I am your son, the father of fathers.” It was an even bigger shock when I realized the handwriting was my own, and the piece of paper was over 100,000 years old. Now, that same message appears everywhere I look—billboards, TV screens, cloud formations. Strangers come up to me and scream it in my face. It echoes across the sky on days windy and calm alike. I have understood my father by becoming him, but in doing so, I have unleashed something. Whether it’s good or evil, I know not. I have become myself. I am your son. I am the father of fathers.

Years from now, when I’m on my deathbed, I will look back and truly realize what a good father I was to myself. More than likely, I will endlessly travel back through time, vainly trying to extend my life, for I greatly fear death. It is this fear of my own death that made me so hard on my son: me.

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