Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In Between The Tick And The Tock

“There is no unstoppable force but time, no impenetrable object except that which separates us from the past”

I could be happy but for the ticking of the infernal clock which intrudes upon my silence, signaling the end of all things. Why must I leave, why can’t I stay here? I could be happy here, although I long for what once was. I would be willing to forsake the past if only you would let me stay where I am.

Once I was unaware of the sound, once I could tune it out. Once the gaps in between the tick and the tock were large enough to rest within, lose myself. Now a world once full of “someday maybe” and "one more time" is being replaced with “never again”.

Time is even more fearsome than death, for death can occasionally be cheated. Time can never be cheated. It is a vast machine that never breaks down, never misses a beat. It kills and then kills again. It brings death and then leaves the living no time to mourn. Blessed is the dumb animal that awakens each morning to a new day, unaware that it is being hunted, stalked. It is senseless of what time has taken from it, sees each new day as no different from the rest. Even as death approaches the animal perceives it as just another sleep.

Time sits at my table, unbidden, as I eat. It chews casually, cuts each bite into tiny portions. I can hear the cursed sound of its knife and fork hitting the plate at steady intervals as it cuts into the meat, the sound driving me mad. It eats, slowly, methodically. And in eating it robs from everyone else at the table, not allowing anyone else to eat their fill of any course. It steals from my plate before I can finish or become sated, clears the dishes even as it continues to chew away. It treats the dishes carelessly, breaking many. Sets that belonged together are no longer whole. Heirlooms passed down from generations are slowly stripped of their value.

And still it eats.  It eats and it eats and it never rises from the table, never finishes, consumes all.

It slips into my bed at night once I have closed my eyes, so that every time I open them I see it staring at me. It lies there quietly but it never sleeps, just stares at me like a vulture patiently waiting. And in the morning it shrieks at me until I awaken, proud to know it has ripped one more day from my grasp.

It toys with us when we are children. The gaps between each second were once so large that the waiting for the next seemed unbearable. Sometimes it seemed not to move at all. In the distance between the tick and the tock were vast fields of play, large enough to hold the sum of all the days now allotted to me.

And as a youth I spent such moments like a wastrel, though, to be fair, there was no way I could have saved them. Now the gap between the swinging of the pendulum has shrunk, or I have grown too large, or slow. Now I cannot seem to fit into any of them, where once they were so wide apart I could string up a hammock between them and rest in their shade.

Once they were of no consequence, like flies that buzzed about me as I went from task to task. Now they sting like wasps. Now I walk through life, acutely aware that one of them shall be my end, each a bullet randomly fired until the one comes with my name on it. For time never ends, but every timer has its final moment.

And still I hear the horrible rhythm, calm and patient, deadly and indifferent.

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