NASA

Time

October 6, 2017

This is time.

The picture is in my hand. It is the picture of a woman’s face. It is a picture of a woman with a slightly sad face. In twelve seconds time, I drop the picture to the sand at my feet, walking away. It’s already lying there, twelve seconds into the future.

Ten seconds now.

The picture is in my hand. I received it from my home, twenty-seven hours ago. It is still there, twenty-seven hours into the past, stuck on my wall in my home. I’m still there looking at it. The picture is in my hand. The girl looks into my eyes. The world around her is frozen.

Seven seconds now.

It is August 24th, 2017. I’m on Mars. It is July 2015. I’m being handed the picture.

Four seconds. Three.

I’m tired of looking at the picture now. I open my fingers. It falls to the sand at my feet. I’m going to looking at the stars. They are so far away, and their light takes so long to reach us… all we ever see of stars are their old pictures.

I am two hundred and twenty-seven million kilometres from the sun. The light is already ten minutes old. It will not reach Pluto for another two hours. Two hours into my future, I observe meteorites from a glass balcony, thinking about my mother. Twelve seconds into my past, I open my fingers. The picture is falling.

I am watching the stars. Halley’s comet tumbles through the solar system on its great seventy-six-year ellipse. My mother admires the sky for its precision. She built telescopes.

It is 2012. I sit in a Sydney kitchen, fascinated by all the parts of the telescope laid out. I am ten years old. It is 2017. I am on Mars. I am fifteen years old.

The picture lies at my feet, falls from my fingers, is in my hand. I am watching the stars, admiring their complex trajectories, through space, through time. I am trying to give a name to the force that set them in motion.

It is August 7th, 2012. The Sydney morning is humid and balcony door has been left open. My mother tells me that she can no longer build telescopes. Her hands are now too fragile. As I am assembling one of her telescopes, she takes the cogs away from me. She takes them to the balcony. Five years ago, cogs rain on Sydney.

One hundred and fifteen minutes into the future, the meteorites hail down through the rarefied atmosphere of Mars… It is 2014, January 1st. I am arriving at Casimir Catholic College for the first day. It is 2016, December 13th, and I prepare to leave forever.

It is 2014, January 2nd. My second day at Casimir. I look at the faces of people I will soon know. I am eleven years old.

Beckham sits near me in the classroom, blocking the sunlight. There is a sudden sensation of deja vu: I’ve seen this place before… except that it was deserted then, the sunlight still raining down, age is more apparent. The illusion vanishes, almost before it has registered. It’s 2014. A girl is forced to move next to me. She talks to me, the first girl to want to talk to me. As she does our eyes meet and something has started.

It is April 2016, she hears that I am leaving soon. It’s 2016, December 14th. She hugs me through her tears and sees me leave her forever. The picture lies in the sand at my feet.

It is July 2015. I am sitting in class, sitting with her. We wait as the class progresses. She pulls out a picture she has drawn. She hands me the drawing and tells me to keep it.

It is 2017. In one hundred minutes, the meteorite shower begins. It is December 2016. She and I talk. In my future, I leave her. As the day passes, we do not stop talking till I go back home. My departure is almost upon me now. I am at the airport and she holds back tears. No laughter. No more jokes. Only sadness. We hug for the last time. The world stands still, and I begin to tear up. I want very much to talk at a desk with her in a class, but the doors shut behind me. I finally cry.

It is January. She sees my face through a screen in a foreign land. It is April and she calls me. She cries. She cries and says that she tried to kill herself. It is June 10th now. I walk with a sad face. I am damaged inside. June 13th: I believe death would not be bad. It is July 16th… I lose faith in God, but don’t resent the idea of a place beyond our knowledge. My mother looks at me with saddened eyes. She has lost faith in me.

It is August 2017. I’m basking in the two-million-year-old light of Andromeda. I can see the supernova that Ernest Hartwig discovered in 1885, over a century ago. It scintillates, a wink intended for the trilobites, all long dead. Supernovas are where gold forms; the only place. All gold comes from supernovas.

It’s Christmas, 2016… I am not alone, but I feel as I am without company. I tell the people I am with that I love it here. As I lie, I hear them berating me in 2017; I am sobbing in 2017. My fingers open. The picture is falling…

It’s July 2015, and everything is frozen. I am starting to accept that I shall never feel cold or warm again.

It’s all getting out my hands… November 2016… I’m there now, in 2016, receiving gifts from my friends, they are preparing for me to leave soon. It is almost December now and a party is being arranged for me, to say goodbye. All I see is tears around me.

It is May. People do not believe that I will be leaving after the year is done. How wrong they are. It is December 11th. I am shaking hands with Mr. Galanis. He hears that I will be leaving and it hurt that I did not tell him. I tell him he was a good teacher.

It is December 14th, 2017. One hour into the future after I leave, she does not stop crying. It is November 2016 and I wish to tell her that I love her. It is December 2016, and I never tell her. Every day her face became more beautiful. Her voice breaks as she says bye, while I’m still standing here on Mars.

It is 2016. I am packing along with my mother. The picture lies in the sand at my feet. In 2015, I am told that I will have to leave one day. In 2013, I am still oblivious to the world.

It is July. I have been here eight months. It is March, and my birthday is close. It is August, 2016. Deciding to create something, I turn away from stars that may have burned out aeons ago. I no longer wish to look at them. I no longer wish to look at dead things.

It is 2017. Choosing a spot to being my creation, I sit down. Pink sand lies pooled in my palm. This deserted planet: it is so wonderfully, completely silent. She would like it here. Through my fingers, pink grains are falling, haphazard, random, a disorganised stream of silicone that seems pregnant with the possibility of every conceivable shape… but this is an illusion. Things have shape in time, not space alone. Some marble blocks have statues within them, embedded in their future.

I am tired of this world; these people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives. In Sydney, I am sitting next to a girl with a sensation of deja vu… and I soon get my picture from her… and I’m gone. Gone to mars. Gone to a place without clocks, without seasons, without hourglasses to trap the shifting sand. Below me, in the sand, the secret shape of my creation is concealed, buried in the sand’s future. I rise into the thin air. I am ready to begin. A world grows up around me. Am I shaping it, or do it’s predetermined contours guide my hand? Without me, things would have been different. If I never existed I would not be here. Am I to blame, then? Or my mother? Or my father? Which of us is responsible? Who makes the world? Perhaps the world is not made. Perhaps nothing is made. Perhaps it simply is, has been, will always be there… a clock without a craftsman. I am standing on a balcony of pink sand, hardened to glass. It glitters in the ten minute old sunshine. The light of two hours past will just being reaching pluto. If they have strong telescopes there, they can see me; the picture in my hand, falling… I am standing on a balcony in 2012, I reach out to stop and take the cogs from my mother, piece them all back again… but it’s too late, always has been, always will be too late. Above the Nodus Gordii Mountains, jewels in a markerless mechanism, the first meteorites start to fall.

This is time.

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