Opposite of Always

Opposite of Always

Justin A. Reynolds


to k and b,

with all the love my heart holds

and for the loves we’ve lost


You know that saying “Time is undefeated”?

This is a story about the time that Time lost.



Title Page


How to Save No One

45 Minutes Earlier

The Beginning Beginning

The Experience of Having Zero Experiences

A Brief History of Strong Like

The Thing About Stairs Is That They’re Up and Down

Sunday Funday

Overthinking Overthinking

The Thing About Shooting One’s Shot

Silly Rabbits, Tricks Are for (Big) Kids

Truth & Consequences

The Coupon’s A-Coming

Some Joy for Your Toy


How Not to Be So Alone in This World

Status Unclear

I’ll Build a Mighty Moat Around Your Love

Mall Talk



How to Get Over Someone (How to Re-Solidify Your Heart When It’s the Bad Kind of Mushy)

No-Show City Doesn’t Have to Be a Sad Place

Party of the Year

As a Time of Day

So Sequels Usually Suck But . . .

Do You Believe in Life After Love?

Remind Me How I Know You

Cereal Killers

Close Encounters of the Friend Kind

High Off Life 2.0

Way More Than 100%

I Got Threads on Threads on Threads

The Irony of Prison Sentences

Drifting, Drifting

The Flip Side to Happy

Quickie Mart Quicksand

How to Come Home


Life as We Know It

He’s Got No Game


Not This Time

Second Chances Are Still Just Chance

The Charm of Third Times

Things Happen in Threes

The Plan to (Hopefully) Save Kate

Fresh 2 Death

We Don’t Accept Coupons at This Establishment

Selection Sunday

The Good Doctor

Wait. What?!

Mighty Magical

Mandrake Moolah

Pants on Fire

A Cure for Bad Blood

A Nutshell: What Sickle Cell Is & What Dr. Sowunmi Intends to Do About It

Operation: Try Not to Make a Total Fool of Yourself

Makeup Texts

Caps & Gowns


Four You & Me

I Can’t Even

How to Betray Everything You’ve Known

The Disappointment of Ancestors

Jack, You Suck, Man

Why I Already Know

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

Dilemmas, Dilemmas

The Talk

An Exploding Appendix

Like This

Duffel Bag Baggage

Worst Thing Ever

Break It Up, Everybody. Party’s Over.


What Would Bill Murray Do?

Some Good Advice Amid Grocery Store Grossness

All the Things

The Agony, the Horror

Almost the End

Fin, for Real This Time


About the Author

Books by Justin A. Reynolds

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About the Publisher

How to Save No One

My face is mashed sideways against the trunk of a police cruiser when Kate dies for the third time. The box meant to save her life is smushed near my feet.

I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.

For instance: don’t waste time on clothes.

It’s cold out, easily sweater weather. I’m in short sleeves, plaid pajama shorts, and a pair of beat-up Chucks I wear to mow the lawn. The insides are damp, and there’s a clump of grass in my right shoe scratching my toes, but there wasn’t time for socks. Socks, and weather-appropriate attire, are a luxury. They take time. And I can’t waste any.

Not tonight.

Not ever.

Because big lesson number one is this: all the time travel in the world can’t save the people you love.

45 Minutes Earlier

The police are already here.

A marked car, idling beside the emergency room entrance. There’s a chance they’re here for me, but there’s no turning back. Split seconds matter. I grab the small package sitting on the passenger seat and hop out of my car. I rip open the box, jam its contents into my sneaker. I pick up my pace.

I should’ve left earlier.

Should’ve done a hundred things differently this time around.

I push open the door, thinking, Get to the elevator, make it to the fourth floor, and then I run face-first into a concrete wall. Also known as colliding into three hundred pounds of beef and nightstick.

Ah, this must be the driver.

I nearly crumple onto the wet floor, except the officer snares me by my T-shirt.

“I got him,” he mumbles into the walkie holstered on his shoulder. “Back outside,” he orders me, pushing open the door, his other hand hugging his gun grip. “Come on, kid. Let’s go.” All sorts of things run through my mind—acts of valor, courage. I think about pushing past the officer and bolting for the stairs or slipping inside the elevator before it closes. But in the end my legs are spread apart, my hands cuffed behind my back.

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