We’re different ends of a watch spring. Where she coils tighter with actions and purpose, I grow slack to yield tension. I tick away and she tocks towards, holding taut equilibrium in the void. Calculated to equalise flaws, wound precisely together, we are honed to count on each other. It’s a wonderful way to spend time and oddly efficient, flying fast in the way of these things. No matter how much has passed it always feels fuller, flowing with the potential of a bottomless hourglass. We go on this way forever, forging past and future while enjoying our present.
Arris fell out of time and landed in my lap. I was so surprised that I charmed her. Something like you belongs somewhere romantic, I said. Paris in sepia or a courtesan’s lace, an uncanny valley or gypsy caravan. Some place idyllic and far away. She laughed at me with social freedoms long since won in wars we forgot. ‘From hereon out I belong next to you,’ she said. ‘Whenever you need me that’s where I’ll be.’ I started counting my blessings and asked for seconds. ‘For you, I will always make time.’ After that, forever was never enough.
She took the longest rope she could find and thrust herself headlong into the morass of my mind. Deep into mine eye she dived, calling echos that reverberate still inside. What might she find but she had time? Deep into my core she burrowed, cracked through crusts and subsurface furrows, foraging for diamonds developed under pressure, rent from my soul and brought to light. She went all the way to the bottom of my life, climbed out clean, proud, and satisfied that she alone had ventured there. ‘It is beautiful,’ she said, displaying the very nature of my being.
Lost as usual, or found again, in lionised eyes. Time passes. Thirteen point eight billion years theorised, over a dozen epochs subdivided across eras then in turn divided by ages. Pupils dilate. Four hundred milliseconds to blink. Barely the length of a Planck between us when one arcsecond ticks a parsec. Lips part. Seventeen muscles to smile, they say, and seventy two beats for one to pump blood, unless it’s in love. Vows are exchanged. Nine billion, one hundred ninety-two million, six hundred thirty-one thousand, seven hundred seventy transitions cross a caesium atom. An eternity is spent.
Arris looks out over the waterfall and is still for a moment. ‘The sound will never be the same,’ she says, ‘every trickled note is a new iteration of combination and intonation but the effect over time is homogeneity.’ I suggest it’s one of natures menial magics and she shakes her curls against my neck. ‘It’s us playing the trick,’ she says, ‘it’s too beautiful for us to handle so we drown it out.’ I look out over the waterfall and listen to the world move through time. I tell her, I can hear every moment of our lives.
She’s presently living in another time. Only a mere matter of hours but seperate still from mine. I look up at the constellations and think of dilation. The farther out you go the further you stray from now. Four hundred and ninety seconds from Sol to surface, an Apollonian joke. I laugh and wonder how long it would take the sound to reach her heart, but I can’t clock the variables and the thought falls apart. Staring at our mutual stars instead, counting to infinity in my head, I take comfort knowing that, relatively speaking, we are always wed.
Standing there, back to the wall, drawing slowly on a cigarette, watching her laugh. Watching her, sat there with that stranger. Nicotine and cut grass molecules intertwine like entropic time. The stranger leaning easily against her, arm around frame, around dame. Dropping cigarette on concrete, pressing boot into cherry, approaching the bench. Recognition paints a colour, she smiles to introduce a stranger. ‘I’m Jack,’ he’s saying. Shaking hands with continuities trembling. Forgetting what was and knowing what’s next. ‘Old friends,’ she’s saying, writing new histories, drawing shares in the same empty frame. Walking away, everything confusing comes into relief.
Sonja tisks singularly and nods at the clock, it’s not overly loud but its tocks stick out in the hush. ‘How do you stand it,’ she says, ‘I won’t even wear a watch.’ I offer to let her smash it, but she doesn’t engage in destruction and won’t even decline. ‘It’s so present,’ she says, ‘don’t you ever feel as though it’s counting you down?’ I tell her time doesn’t know me well enough for it to be personal and offer to smash it for her. ‘Relentless,’ she says, ‘little deaths that reek of precognition.’ The sound of inevitability.
-through the wrong end of a kaleidoscope. One of the Davids hits me again and then I’m on the ground, a weight on my chest so heavy that it feels like my ribs are being pushed through the concrete into the hard-packed soil beneath. Fifteen grand, he’s saying, fifteen grand. Over and over until the words have no meaning.
‘I don’t have it,’I say.
Laura looking at me from the kitchen of our shitbox redbrick apartment. Oil fire eyes summarizing years of disappointment. Her long dark hair hanging about her face in lanky clots. Mascara streaks and unwashed dishes. Somewhere else a baby cries, uncared for. Laura’s crooked smile, a smothering.
‘I can get it for you,’ I say.
Floating ribs sunk into organs. Something creaks and brittle parts are being stressed. The Davids coalesce above me. One man, larger than possible, viewed at this treacherous angle. Baring lupine teeth, he snarls, I want what’s mine. Angry perspiration planing down his face, opalescent beads caught under fluorescents. I can almost hear them sizzle as they drop onto my skin. I want what’s mine, he says again.
‘I need more time,’ I whimper.
The crying stops and Laura barely rocks, like leaves anticipate the wind. Her lightly shaking head and a sighing in the silence soughing through the house. I don’t know how much longer, she falters. I move to her for comfort. My hands have only ever hurt when held in other places. Amateur dancers, they only know the rhythms of her skin. We stay like this for hours as the minutes fade away. I listen to the pleading as her words vibrate upon my cheek. I need. I need. I need.
‘Ok,’ I whisper.
Two days, he barks.
Today, she pleads.