still worth it

When Trent left a comment hoping for more to the Worth It story I posted last week, I promised that there was more to be had.  It was only a half-truth because while I had thought there could be more, I hadn’t yet considered where the words might lead.  I’m not sure what follows is exactly what Trent had in mind.  But, … perhaps that is my mistake for assuming anything about his expectations in the first place.  When I finished the below I felt like I had created a good beginning (last week’s post) and a good ending (this week’s) but not a lot of middle.  However, upon further reflection I think I’ve come to understand that what I have created is all beginning and the true story is what comes next.

Anyway, that was all just a bit of my musings.  Here’s the actual post:

Age, being an arbitrary marker for the passage of time but essential for the value of life, took its toll on them as it must.  Their faces grew tired but their stories never did.  Their adventures slowed down but their devotion never did.  Their bodies started giving up but their love never did.

The glitches of time, the slowing and speeding at intervals, continued unnoticed as the couple gave themselves to their shared journey.  There were hard times that lasted too long and good times that were over too quickly.  There were children that redefined patience for them.  There were losses that tested their strength.  There were glimpses of happiness snatched as pooled sun poured through a break in the clouds, only to be smothered away again.  There was laughter and a home so full of giggles the windows rattled and threatened to burst.

Occasionally, he paused in those moments of brilliance and marveled how wonderful it was that time would slow so they could grasp that joy for a tiny bit longer.  And, then his mind would tickle with the hint of a memory but the spinning room of chaotic happiness would pull him from his reverie and he’d rejoin the fray.  Whatever the memory was, it wasn’t important enough to distract him from the present, from the now, from the perfection that was.

She passed peacefully in her sleep, an expected end that still hurt with an unexpected and impossible to prepare for pain.  It pierced his heart and mind in equal measures.  He wept openly and missed her desperately.  The echoes of their adventures haunted the quiet rooms of their shared home.  He no longer recognized his face in the mirror.  His body grew numb to the demands of the flesh.

He cursed time for taking his love from him.  How dare it split them up!  How dare it run out for one faster than the other!  How dare it!

But, then a memory tickled him once again and he no longer had the distractions to keep him from pondering it.  He pressed long into his past until he could pinpoint the origin and then an exultant sigh escaped his lips as he remembered: in his youth, he could recognize the glitches of time and change his actions to get the most from when it slowed and when it sped.

Closing his eyes, he floundered against the darkness and the pressing weight of the passing seconds crashing against him.  He didn’t remember the secret, but knew it was still within him if he could quiet his mind enough to glimpse it.  And then it came to him.  Opening his eyes he made a plan.  One last adventure.  One more unique series of moments, priceless in their finality, as all moments of life are.

The next time he felt the seconds collapsing upon themselves as time ticked away faster than normal, he gave himself up in search of his beloved.  He knew as the last breath escaped his lungs that even if he never found her, the search alone would be worth it.

worth it

There are moments in the day where time bends and slips to tick away the seconds at odd intervals: sometimes fast and sometimes slow.  The trick, his one true talent, was to recognize those moments and tailor his activities accordingly.  When time skipped, he tackled the chores he was dreading most so they would be over quicker.  When time crawled, he would switch to the tasks he liked the best to enjoy them longer.  In this manner, he passed his days until she came into his life.  Or rather, more accurately, until she crashed into his car.

It was near the summer solstice in the final days of June, one of those days where the sun comes up early and stays up late for fear of missing out on something fun, and he was in his car taking advantage of time slipping quickly to commute home from work.  He spent a lot of time in his car.  The commuter lifestyle wasn’t something he chose but something he tolerated and when he felt the seconds piling together he would jump in his car and hit the road.  The tires and pavement would sing in baritone and tenor, the radio would provide the percussion and rhythm, and with the time passing faster than normal the drive home would be almost pleasant.

On the days the timing worked best, the slipping seconds would ease back to normal just as he parked his car in the garage, and then they would stretch out and allow him long moments to enjoy his hobbies as the afternoon sluggishly sauntered on.  However, the day he met her he never got to those long lounging moments because as he pulled off the freeway, she ran a red light and crunched into his passenger side.  The world spun.  Glass splintered and flew.  Metal crunched and warped.  But, somehow they were both okay.

Their eyes met and time stopped altogether in a glorious display of the universe’s power.

Since then they have been nearly inseparable.  They willingly gave up their own freedoms, beholden to no schedule but their own, to become a unit forced to work together, compromise, struggle and triumph.  And, since he no longer had the opportunity to change tasks based on the bending or stretching seconds, he eventually forgot how to recognize when those moments were happening.

He never regretted the loss for he had gained far more.

flares

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dvortygirl)
Image Credit: Dvortygirl

The flares, sputtering red, shoved across the unbroken white line, are the only evidence that remain of the early morning tragedy.  Their harsh bursts of splotchy fire defy the tranquil darkness, daring the passersby to remember their own mortality, to ponder the recently departed.  They demand attention, and they receive it as the road slows to a crawl.  One by one, we all pay homage, for those few minutes, until the light of the flares fades to nothingness in our rear-view mirrors, and then we forget and speed along on our separate journeys through shared space and time.

We must forget.  It is the only way we can maintain our tenuously grasped shred of sanity in a world spinning farther and faster away from our control every aging second.  If we ever fully admit and realize our mortality, we will surely be crushed by the enormity of that truth.  It hovers above us at all times, a mass of risks and eventualities with dagger edged arms known as “fear” and “doubt” that swing chaotically around us hoping to pierce our hearts.

Outlines of ghost cars, mangled, misshapen and mauled, flash briefly and faintly in the scattered lights.  The trail of dying flares run through where the shimmering husks once rested, our eyes showing us a glimpse of how things were before we arrived.  We don’t see the accident itself, we don’t hear the screams or see the blood, but we see the aftermath.  We see how the vehicles had been pushed to the edge of the road so that progress could go on.

Progress must go on.  We cannot be inconvenienced by the unfortunate events that befall others.  We cannot spare them more time from our own dwindling reserves than we have already given in our slow hat-tipping pass by their final resting places.  There are bills to buy and junk to pay.  We have families that pretend to depend on us.  We have careers that pretend to value us.  The world is topsy-turvy and we have to hurry along our paths before we get left behind and fall off.

Four cars collided one dark and mist soaked morning in December hours before the sun would rise and the bulk of southern California’s humanity would flock in search of their daily worms.  Time slowed for their fellow commuters as they gawked at the chaos and aftermath, stuck on the thermals of their morbid curiosity.  The sirens came and tended to the injured and cleared the scene in some semblance of an importance based order.  Time played its normal tricks, from too slow to too fast, and the day moved on.

Four lives were forced to face their mortality, and all those who drove by the spot of turmoil, for a time, were required to briefly join their journey of contemplation.  But the power of the tragedy waned as the hours passed, and eventually no trace, not even the flickering of a dying flare, was left as a portal to deathly thoughts.  Another day, another tragedy, and it was quickly brushed aside, except for those four lives who could never forget again.

universal truth

Westminster Bridge
Image Credit: Kayode Okeyode – Click on the image to see a bigger, better version.

He saw it all: the buses, taxis and other traffic roaming far and wide across the bridge, the young couple seeking shelter and a quick embrace below their umbrella, the family out for evening stroll despite the downpour.  He watched and witnessed and let it go.  Life went on as always.  Time never stopped.

There had been times, sure, when it seemed like time must stop.  With the world in turmoil, sirens blaring and the streets deserted as people sought shelter wherever they could, he had thought on more than one occasion that the planes would come and time would stop.  The death they brought with them almost certainly would carry over to time.  It seemed inevitable, and, yet, it never had.

The seconds had continued to roll to minutes, and the minutes to hours, and then the hands would swing around to herald a new days, as they always had since he had first been given life.

Yes, Big Ben, saw everything go on around him.  He watched seasons turn.  He watched the world war and love.  And through it all he tracked the passing of time.

Perhaps that was the only true inevitability of the universe – another second will follow.

He was honored to be one of the prestigious markers of that universal truth.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

A bit of silliness, really, for this week’s Once More With Feeling.

What do you do feel when you look at the provided picture?  Write it, link it, publish it.

weakness?

“I’m winding down and my time is thinning out, even as it swirls maddeningly faster around me.  My seconds no longer tick and tock with measured frequency,” the wizard grinned dangerously, magic dancing in his eyes, “but don’t mistake that for weakness.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Word Count: 42

Micro (fantasy) fiction written for this week’s Gargleblaster, but I may just have to revisit this one later on.  I need to know more about this elderly wizard, who he is talking to, and what he does next.

But, in the mean time, how would you answer the current prompt?

Have all your clocks stopped?