I'm trying to recall the name of a short story I read in an anthology (Best of the Year?) from the 1960s or '70s, in which a man taking a walk in a field meets a young woman who claims to have travelled there from the future.

She says the field is a department store in the future and that her father invented a time machine that she uses to visit the more picturesque past. "Yesterday I saw a deer, and today I saw you," she says at one point. The man thinks there's something familiar about her, but can't place it, and sees her for several days in a row.

One final day, she arrives in tears, saying this is her last visit, because the authorities have come to confiscate the machine, which is illegal. He never sees her again, but comes to realize that she used the machine one last time to go a little further into the past, and become his wife.


This is "The Dandelion Girl" (1961) by Robert F. Young. It was first published in The Saturday Evening Post. TVTropes provides a link to the story online.

I found this summary of the plot:

A man whose wife is away encounters a girl in her 20s coming out of the woods who looks somewhat familiar and wearing a strange-looking dress. She talks to him a little and then goes back to the woods. She proceeds to return several times and, eventually, tells him that she is from the future. Time travel is a possibility where she's from, but the government has banned it for fear of changing the past. Her father secretly built his own time machine before his death, as he believed that time is immutable and everything has already happened. In the meantime, the man's wife starts to act a little strange towards him, as if she suspects he is spending time with another woman. The girl is missing for several days, and then comes back saying that this is her last visit, as the time machine is about to break down due to lack of maintenance. There may be enough left in it for one more trip. As she disappears into the woods, he follows her but sees only a bright flash of light. He returns to the house and looks in the attic for something, only to find his wife's old things, which also include the same strange dress the girl wore, the same dress his wife wore on the day they met years ago. Everything suddenly clicks in his head, and he realizes he had been married to her all along.

The only difference is that the machine is about to break, not be confiscated, though your memory of it being confiscated fits with time travel being illegal in the future.

The ISFDb entry for the story indicates it was republished in 7th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F (1962).

Cover of "7th Annual Edition: The Year's Best S-F"

  • 9
    Can't believe the 75c prices. Money printing is a hell of a drug. Jan 27 '21 at 0:12
  • 11
    @DavidTonhofer It's not just inflation; Pawn of Prophecy was $2.50 (first edition) in 1982. (And we thought that was a lot then, since it passed the $2/book threshold.) According to the inflation calculator that would be $6.50 now, but instead new paperbacks are $9+! That's basically a 40% increase on top of inflation!
    – DavidW
    Jan 27 '21 at 0:28
  • @DavidTonhofer I've got that edition. The 1st annual edition of her "year's best" was 35 cents (I have that one too) Jan 27 '21 at 1:48
  • @DavidW Pshaw! Black Library (a division of Games Workshop) has been selling paperbacks for $9 for at least 15 years. Jan 27 '21 at 20:46
  • 1
    If only we had a time machine.... :D
    – Aibobot
    Jan 28 '21 at 2:13

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