The slow creep of time

When I woke it was with a headache and a disturbing sense that nothing was quite right. The sun had begun to drop down behind the house and the shadow of the building was slowly inching across the lawn towards me. The book I had been reading was on the grass, the pages sprung open slightly from the sun, and the glass of water next to me was empty, though I didn’t remember drinking it. As I sat up I felt hot and dazed, dehydrated maybe.

I sat there for some time, leant forward and with my eyes closed, probing at the headache and feeling it sit heavy and numb in the centre of my forehead. A slight breeze began to blow, rustling the branches of the tree behind me and making the pages of the books flicker. Next to the book I found my packet of cigarettes and I took one and lit it, watching the smoke drift away behind me after each drag. When I had finished I stubbed the butt out by my feet and saw then that the sun had completely set and that I sat now in the dim half light of dusk. How long it had taken to smoke that cigarette I don’t know but the feeling of unease grew and I gathered up the few scattered things I had around me and walked indoors.

By the time I reached the house the stars had grown bright in the sky, appearing and disappearing behind the clouds in a way that made them sparkle and glitter. My headache had flared and throbbed when I stood but indoors the coolness of the house felt soothing and my forehead grew less tight, though the numbness remained.

The house was as I’d left it; plates piled on the side by the sink, crumbs on the table top. The lights were off and a quietness pervaded the house. I knew already that my fiancé was asleep upstairs and that the silence I was experiencing was that of the early hours of the morning. I felt as though I was standing in a stagnating pool of time, the rush and flow of the stream roaring past me while I bobbed and hung suspended in the shallows of the river. For a full five minutes I stood and watched the clock that hung over the oven in the kitchen. I watched the second hand tick tick tick as it should, and the minute hand slowly creep forward and saw, or didn’t see, the hour hand move, as imperceptibly as always. I glanced away, reassured. The moonlight streamed through the blinds that covered the kitchen window and lit the room with a dull white light. When I looked back at the clock two hours had passed.

I woke that following morning, lying where I had fallen. The kitchen floor was hard and the coldness of the tiles had crept in to my body. From where I lay I could see the sunlight shining through the kitchen window, outside of the window the splayed branches of a tree nodded in the wind and the leaves shone brilliant green where the light hit them.

I stood and as I did I noticed things moving in the kitchen. Small quick movements. Plates appeared on the table for a second, then disappeared. Cupboards opened and shut in an instant. I turned and watched as the pages of a newspaper ran from front to back, as though a strong wind had blown them.

The quietness of the early hours continued in to the day though I heard, or thought I heard, a high pitch whine just present on the edge of hearing. All else was silent.

I walked to the bedroom and as I climbed the stairs the sun sank and rose and then sank again. I slumped in the chair next to the bed and watched a frenzy of motion beneath the sheets, the kicking arms and legs of my fiancé, the twists and turns of her sleep. I saw her for two minutes and then she was gone and the bed was made and the sun shone again.

I looked at my hands and touched my head and moved in front of the mirror to stare at myself. I looked the same as ever; black hair, blue eyes. My face was pinched though, the eyes squinting  from the headache, and my skin pale. I turned away and watched my fiancé’s frantic sleep a second time, and then a third, and then a fourth. Each sleep grew quicker and shorter and very soon she flickered like the guttering of a candle, then disappeared from my sight forever.

I walked outside and sat in the soft and uniform light that was the average of both day and night. I saw in the  distance hills slowly move across the landscape, rolling onwards like giant waves. I sat and watched and in the silence I felt myself carried with these waves, across the world, to the end of time.

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Filed under Creative writing, Stories

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