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Literature / We Can't Rewind

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We Can't Rewind by B.R.L. Coryn is ostensibly a Paranormal Romance, since it focuses primarily on the main characters' relationships and how a couple of paranormal events affect them, but it overlaps heavily with a lot of other genres as well. Told entirely from the First-Person Perspective of a man named Don Richards, the story is about how he and his new wife Denise manage to keep their marriage together after their honeymoon cruise gets lost in The Bermuda Triangle and he and she get Freaky Friday Flipped with his son Jackie and her daughter Jaymee, respectively. Unlike so many other stories involving a such a swap, this isn't a Comedy, (Romantic or otherwise), doesn't teach its characters any obvious moral lessons, and (above all) does not switch them back into their proper bodies by the end.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Denise, and later on Jaymee, at least in terms of emotional immaturity.
  • An Aesop: Averted, though the whole family does go looking for one when trying to figure out why they got swapped in the first place.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Near the end of the story, the family acquires a medical scanner capable of telling them when a child was conceived "within a three day margin of error with ninety-eight percent accuracy." This is how they know the parents conceived little Jubilee while they were all still in their original bodies, rather than the children in their parents' bodies doing so after they got swapped. Well, the device is from several decades into the future. Who knows what kind of medical technology we'll have by then?
  • Author Tract:
    • In the second chapter, Jaymee's biological father is revealed to have been posing as a homosexual while he was supposed to be promoting homosexuality in Denise's school under the auspices of an ostensible "anti-bullying" campaign while also married to a lesbian in order to present a respectable front to their straight friends and relatives. He's then revealed to have been conning his wife and other allies as well, since he never actually promoted anything but straight sex and was apparently using his position mainly to get at Denise rather than pursuing other men or boys. Let it suffice to say, the narrator (and apparently the author) has no kind words for this guy or his allies.
    • The futuristic nation of Merciar in the chapters near the end also seems to be something like the author's idealistic Utopia, though he does mention its having a number of social and political problems like any other nation. Its founders are also stated to be mainly Christians and Jews who were fleeing from persecution and war a number of decades into the future when they got lost in the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Auto Erotica: Part of Denise's initial attempt to seduce Don. While she doesn't actually get him to do the deed, they do get to first base, and he does rightly take it for a Love Confession and a marriage proposal.
  • Babies Ever After: The incredible circumstances don't stop the story from heavily implying this to be its ending. It turns out all the parents' fun before they were swapped produced Jackie and Jaymee's little half-sibling Jubilee. Though taking care of her has convinced the children to swear off having any more, Don and Denise are convinced they'll change their minds about that eventually. Don also expects that Denise will eventually be wanting to have another baby with him once their bodies are sufficiently mature.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: In this story, it mostly just serves as a Magnetic Plot Device, and one indicated to operate only on very rare occasions: some of the ship's crew claim to have been sailing its waters for decades without anything interesting happening to them. It's eventually revealed that a few disappearances, one of which just happens to include the Richards family's honeymoon cruise, are due to a phenomenon known as the "Bermuda Gateway" which transports the vessels to an alternate version of Earth where time flows backward.
  • Bizarro Universe: While otherwise not so different from our world, the dimension on the other side of the Bermuda Gateway is in a timeline headed the opposite direction from ours, such that its Earth turns on its axis and orbits around its sun in the opposite direction from ours. The inhabitants of its only nation Merciar refer to it as a "mirror" universe because all of its celestial objects' motions "mirror" those of our universe, and not due to any moral inversions as in the trope with that name.
  • Child by Rape: Jaymee, specifically due to statutory rape; Denise was ten when her teacher started molesting her.
  • Disappeared Dad: A chronic problem in Denise's family before she met Don; this complicates her marriage with him a bit further, since neither she nor Jaymee are emotionally familiar with the concept of having a father in their household.
  • Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: Somewhat inverted. While the sudden swap into their parents' bodies doesn't really make the children any more emotionally mature, Don does end up kicking himself for not having considered how the adult sex hormones influencing their brains might have awakened some rather "mature" sexual desires in them. Denise also demonstrates to Don that her sexual desires for him are not particularly dependent on those hormones, and he's able to work up sufficient desire without them to reciprocate as well.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Mostly back story, but Don grimly notes that being "a grandmother not yet turned thirty" made it pretty easy for Denise's mother to pose as Jaymee's mother too.
  • Flirty Step Siblings: Don and Denise feel rather obliged to discuss this since Jackie and Jaymee are near the same age, opposite sexes to each other, and definitely Not Blood Siblings. Also, they've already engaged in some... marital relations with each other in their parents' bodies. Denise brings this up in pointing out this subject was bound to come up sooner or later anyway while Don is kicking himself for not having considered the possibility that having adult brains might inspire Jackie and Jaymee to engage in some rather adult activities.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Played straight on the whole, with Don and Denise getting swapped with Jackie and Jaymee for reasons that are never entirely explained, and the switch being rendered permanent.
  • Girls Have Cooties: Jackie and Jaymee take this attitude toward each other early in the story, though they gradually get over it at some point before the honeymoon cruise as they warm up to each other.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: Given a bit of play during Denise's attempt to seduce Don. While neither of them are virgins (he being a widower with a son and she being a young single mother), and he doesn't blame her or consider her Defiled Forever for her checkered past, he still insists on getting married before getting it on.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Old-fashioned though he is, Don is no prude and not particularly shy about describing what happens after he gets married. As for Denise, she's gotten well over her childhood trauma by the wedding night and is not particularly hesitant about getting busy with him either.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Don specifically indicates this story to be his memoirs, and spends a substantial portion of the later chapters vacillating on whether it'll ever reach its intended readers due to a Timey-Wimey Ball standing between him and them.
  • Karma Houdini: As Don notes with considerable disgust, Denise's molester disappeared without a trace soon after he discovered she was pregnant and the law never caught up with him. This is somewhat downplayed in further analysis, however: "Ironically, [his molesting Denise] may ultimately have altered her life for the better, and his for the worse." (While Don never specifies how the molester's life got worse, being a perpetual fugitive from the law could certainly be a punishment unto itself.)
  • Let's Wait Awhile: Don is a rather old-fashioned respectably religious guy, and has little difficulty convincing Denise to save the sex for their wedding night in view of her horrific earlier experiences with it. This continues with their children, who aren't in such a hurry to consummate their marriage after their "regrettable misunderstanding" leading to Their First Time earned them such a tongue-lashing from their parents.
  • Masquerade: Don refers to his family's concealment of their swap as this.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: "Jackie and Jaymee did still have the covers pulled up over themselves; for that I am grateful."
  • Missing Mom: Don's (unnamed) first wife, Jackie's biological mother, stated to have died in a car accident with a Drunk Driver.
  • No Name Given: Don refuses to name a lot of the people in this story apart from his (second) wife, children, and self; this turns out to be justified when he reveals near the end that he and his family are still maintaining their masquerade not only because they failed to reverse the "Freaky Friday" Flip, but because his still-severely-underage son and step-daughter are now quite actively married, he and Denise are still being quite active in their own marriage in their own still-severely-underage bodies, and a great many people would tend to oppose their family's arrangement even in their new homeland of Merciar.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Don and Denise end up discussing at length how this trope hypothetically might have played out with Jackie and Jaymee had their family not gotten into such extraordinary circumstances. The reason they're discussing it, however, is because Denise is proposing this trope as a wholly practical resolution to the sexual relationship between their children to which their extraordinary situation gave rise.
  • Primal Scene: Believe it or not, a crucial part of the story, as it brings about that Freaky Friday Flip. Later, due to Don's rather economical explanation to them of what he and Denise were doing, Jackie and Jaymee have a Parents Walk In at the Worst Time scene; which is also the point at which they realize they can't shock themselves back into their original bodies the way they shocked themselves out.
  • Riddle for the Ages: How exactly did the parents get swapped with their children? Did that cloud of wisps they encountered after their passage through the Bermuda Gateway have anything to do with it? Is there any way they could get their "Freaky Friday" Flip reversed? By the end, Don heavily implies that he and his family have given up looking for answers to these questions.
  • Shout-Out: Has a great many.
  • The Slow Path: The Merciart (citizens of Merciar) have a means of visiting our world from theirs, but time is counting down for them at the same rate as it's counting up for us. Don mentions that some Merciart are already preparing instructions for their distant descendents to find out about what really happened on the first Easter and Christmas a couple millennia from the present; and in the meantime, several of them are planning to raid some artifacts from the World Trade Center towers in the morning hours of September 11, 2001.
  • The Talk: Unlike a great many other examples of this trope, it's given unapologetically and at length with a lot of references to personal experience after Don and Denise catch Jackie and Jaymee doing the deed.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Actually, Preteen Pregnancy in Denise's case. As Don says concerning meeting an eighteen-year-old Denise's just-turned-seven-year-old daughter Jaymee: "She was also a child, not a toddler or an infant as most teenagers’ little mistakes tended to be." Also, Denise's mother was an irresponsible sixteen-year-old who got pregnant with her by a fellow sophomore in high school.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Merciar's finest minds are having no more success establishing with any certainty how exactly travel between their world (in which time flows backward) and ours is possible than our narrator. By the end of the book, he states he has given up trying to make any sense of how this form of time travel works for fear of losing his mind.