I happen upon a watch,
A strange pocket watch,
It looks old and vintage,
But is still has a shine,
A shine like none I’ve seen.
It is ticking,
I pull the crown.
The ticking stops,
As does the words around me,
Everything is frozen.
I press it back,
Everything is fine,
I twist the hands forward,
The world follows.
Smiling I laugh,
Now I control time,
But there must be,
I walk down the street,
Making sure the time is correct.
People brush past,
I do not notice anything,
I can no longer be seen.
Our modern world spins top speed
A world of swift, electric greed
A world that never goes to sleep
And sometimes, often, makes me weep
Imagine if this world would pause
To stop and savor; ooh and ah
Imagine time would just stand still
And let us linger as we will
I’d stop and smell each fragrant bud
And jump in each puddle of mud
I’d write and draw and sing aloud
And look for pictures in the clouds
I’d wonder at the frozen rain
And laugh, and laugh, and laugh again
I’d see the world with eyes anew
And give my time to those it’s due
I’d marvel in this moment caught
And give it all the time I ought
Imagine when time starts again
That we have learned a kind of zen
With our slow world we’ve made connection
And set aside time for reflection
Tick... Tick... Tick.
You happen upon a strange pocket watch. You pick it up, dust it off, and tap it a couple times. It’s ticking normally. You pull the crown and everything around you freezes. You press it back into place and normalcy returns. Amazed, you wind it forward, then backward, and impossibly, the world speeds up, then rewinds. Time is now yours to control.
But it isn't.
Because time doesn't have rules.
It doesn't make sense.
It doesn't follow patterns.
It doesn't tell you what it means.
Time likes to change its mind.
And sometimes forward means back
and back means forward.
And sometimes start is stop, and stop is start
and the world begins to fall apart
because you were there
but also here
and once this happened, but it changed
but time doesn't change
it doesn't follow rules
so it happened and it didn't happened
all at the same time
and time didn't understand
and it didn't like being meddled with.
It didn't want to stop and move,
rewind and move forward,
start, and stop,
up and down, back and forth,
across the timeline of the world
and eventually time grew angry enough
was changed one too many times
by your hand on that strange pocketwatch
and time acts
it fizzles and pops
it goes back to that day
where you first dusted it off
and time changed
and you never picked up a pocketwatch
never dusted it off
never moved back and forth
and time went on.
On and on and on...
Tick... Tick... Tick.
I'd go back
to that first night
when I though you were too good to be true
and you thought the same about me.
to when I would spend an hour getting ready
and you would show up
an hour early.
to when I would tell
anyone who would listen
all about you
and you would live up
to the advance press.
to that first night
when we both felt
we had found it all.
This Cursed Time Piece
I thought I would be Majesty and stop the World
—pull this crown and take the pulse of Eternity!
Its lifeless carcass attach to my trusty fob
like some anachronistic trophy of old...
I laughed, smugly, all this while I’ve been killing Time:
why in Heaven’s name should it not at last be mine?!
—but noticed! the watch face... as it then unfolded...
with a yawn, wink and nod; “Who are you?” I inquired,
prepared to squeeze harder those little spindly arms...
“I’m a HooDoo... of you! For your Time’s sure to come:
It will arrive, take you up, pull your leg, same as mine!
Stop your minutes, cuff your hands, and freeze your digits!
You’ll not know the day, nor the hour, of your arrest!
Its hands will swoop down at you to unhook your crown,
wind you back, and forth, and have a laugh at this Power...
turning you quick to memories we’d once 'moved-past;'
forcing you to some alarming Future 'preview;'
...so that you’ll know its Time that rules us inside, out."
The World Was Ours.
"Do you realize what this means?" I exclaimed, barely able to contain my enthusiasm.
Harry looked at me with wide, enquiring eyes, and frowned.
"Our jobs just got a whole lot easier," I continued, staring at the little treasure resting on the palm of my hand.
He kept his eyes on me, an incredulous look on his face, "Love, it's just a watch..."
"You don't believe me."
Now it was my turn to frown. I extended my arm and offered him the pocket watch, "Go ahead. Try it."
He didn't move.
"Take the watch!" I repeated, a bit more intensely this time.
He must have seen the glimmer in my eyes because he hesitantly cupped the thing and started examining it.
"Listen, I'm gonna punch you now-"
"What the hell, Anton?"
"I'm gonna punch you now and, as soon you see me moving, you pull the crown," I explained. "You'll be fine."
"Anton, I don't-"
I didn't let him finish. Harry was a lot of things, but a man of actions he was not. He would rather talk and analyze and examine every little thing before actually acting, and, dear god, sometimes it was unbearable.
I thrust my fist towards his nose, sure enough that I’d miss. I didn’t hold back. Sweet baby Jesus, I didn’t hold back... I didn’t even realize I hit him until he rocketed backwards, leaving a trail of blood spatter behind.
“Oh my god, babe!”
He fell with force on the wooden desk and tumbled down, tipping it over alongside him. I rushed to his side, and placed my arm on his back. Blood was dripping down his nose and the Hawaiian shirt I’d bought on our honeymoon was painted red. Despite the absurdity of the situation, I didn’t feel like laughing. I was mostly shocked. I had never laid a hand on him before -what was I even thinking?
“Here, let me get you something.”
I got up and went to the bathroom, returning with a freshly washed towel at hand. I, then, proceeded to the kitchen for some ice.
“You punched me…” I heard his muffled voice and peaked through the door.
“I told you I’d punch you, babe.”
“Don’t you ‘babe’ me. You punched me!”
“I’m sorry… I thought you’d stop me.”
“How? How was I supposed to stop you?”
“With the watch, silly. I told you to pull the crown.”
“Well, I didn’t,” he pouted.
“Yes, I can see…”
“Are you going to hand me the ice-pack or what?”
I pecked his forehead. “You’re lucky it didn’t break.”
“You're lucky it didn’t break,” he retorted, “’cause there would have been hell to pay.”
“I promise to make it up to you in the bedroom,” I slyly grinned and he cracked a smile.
Phew… Situation diffused.
“Hey, where’s the pocket watch?” I suddenly remembered the reason my partner was on the floor bleeding.
“The watch that magically stops time, you mean?” he mocked me.
I scanned the room and saw it under the armchair, its screen slightly cracked.
“Oh damn, I hope it still works.”
“If you punch me again-” he squinted, his emerald eyes spitting fire.
God, I loved those eyes, little specks of olive amid a grass field. I loved how his nose wrinkled when he was upset. I loved the creases on his forehead when he was in deep thought. I loved how his mouth would slightly curve after a job well done. I resisted the urge to undress him there and then. We would have plenty of time for that later.
“No, let’s try something else this time, okay? Are you good? Can you stand up?”
He nodded and I heaved him to his feet. I brought a glass of water from the kitchen and gave him the same instructions as before. I let the glass go and it smashed on the floor, breaking into dozens of pieces.
“Great, and now the glass broke,” he cocked an eyebrow.
“...you were supposed to pull the crown.”
“Listen, I just got punched on the nose and I’m in terrible pain. I can barely see straight.”
“And whose fault is that?”
“Okay, yeah, I punched you, but why won’t you do as I say?”
“Because it’s stupid!” he boomed. “What’s gotten into you? Blabbing about some time stopping watch-”
“Just give it a chance. I’m not crazy. I didn’t make this up.”
“Oh, are you going to break another glass now?”
“Just pull the bloody cro--”
His mouth was a perfectly shaped ‘O’ only surpassed in roundness by his eyes. He looked at me speechless.
“You pulled the crown while I was talk--”
“--ing, didn’t you?” I sneered.
“Oh my god!”
“See? I told you I didn’t ma--”
“--ke this up.”
“Whoa! It actually stops time!”
“Do you under--”
“Every time I pull the crown, it stops time…” he repeated in a daze.
“Wait, how many ti--”
“--mes have you do--”
He suddenly burst out laughing, his contagious giggle impossible for me to resist. I followed suit and we found ourselves on the floor cracking up, hugging, kissing like mad men.
After we both settled down and wiped our tears off, we looked at each other, glint in our eyes. No more racing time, no more failures, no more running from the cops. Just a simple pulling of the crown and we would be able to get into any building, any bank and take everything we wanted without anyone even realizing there was a heist in place.
The world was ours. Riches awaited...
To Be Insane
I think about it day and night. It's not easy being shut out. Not easy to be treated like a wounded animal. Not easy to be seen as reckless and slow. Slow. Ha. To think that they call me slow. No, I'm not slow. Not slow at all. No. I'm terrifing. So terrifing that they had to put me away. Locked behind the steel walls. They said that I was going to do things. Things that scared them. Things they didn't like.
Now, it is not simple to be different. No one understands. No one listens. They say they listen, all of those men and women who come to see me, but they don't. Thay always say they do, mm, but they don't. No. No one understands how I work. I see things that others don't. No. Others don't see the men in the walls. Only I do. Only I do.
Others can't hear the screams that come from the floor. They tell me everything is fine. Everything is normal. No. Everything is not normal.
They locked me away to keep the dangers out, mmm, but they brought it in. They should not have trusted me. No. I should have died, but oh those weak minded people. Wanting to be good for a chance, but, they were wrong. No human is good. Nothing is good. That's why I do what I do. Why I can complete what others call horror. I act as if though nothing happened, knowing that for the good of the world, another evil has left it's harbors. But, I was treated different after what I did.
The women treated me as if I were a piece of glass, to fragle to touch, to steady to crack. They would come into my room, each hour. Each hour. One hour. Two hour. Treat me as if I were nothing. A thing, I would hear them say. But their wrong. No. I am not a thing. I am a god.
I can kill without death upon me, hear the thoughts of the minds around me. Take apart a human with no emotion. It thrills me to murder. Sends a chill down my spine. A smile to my face.
I put on a show. I pretend they are listening. I seem happy on the special celebrations, as if I'm "getting better." That's what they call it. To get better. Not be godlike anymore. No. I am only growing stronger. After tonight. No more shows. No more acts. They will all be dead by then. All will be dead by then. All will be dead. All.
The problem with playing with time is that it stops affecting you, at least in the traditional sense. Every time I rewound time to fix a little mistake I kept going. Stop myself from spilling coffee on my shirt, I get a few second older. Take surface streets instead of the freeway to avoid the accident that made me an hour late for work, age an hour. Going forward was worse. I aged at the same rate I was moving forward, and going back didn’t undo the change. Of course I didn’t find out about this until I tried to see the distant future.
My hair had already gone gray, my sea-blue eyes getting cloudy. No one would ever suspect I was really only twenty-six. Or was it twenty-seven...my memory isn’t what it used to be. At any rate I definitely didn’t look my age. The biggest revelation of all was finding out that I had a bad heart. I managed to talk my way into an emergency room after my heart attack. It was interesting, trying to explain my lack of identification. I couldn’t exactly show them my driver’s license.
The prognosis said that the damage was too severe. I think I heard the phrase “borrowed time”. I remember thinking that it wasn’t borrowed. I had taken a loan and it was time to repay it. So I decided to go back, stop myself from finding the watch. It was the only option I could see.
I went back to the street where I had found it, sat down on the curb, and started winding it backward. The cold, sinking nausea came flooding back into my body. I was familiar with the feeling by now, not that it got any easier to deal with. I could see cars driving in reverse, houses being unpainted, small children getting smaller. It had only been a year since I found it, at least according to the newspapers that were being flung from a truck each morning. Relatively speaking it felt like minutes.
I could feel the strain getting worse. The pain my chest was almost unbearable, but I had to go back. If I could just go back I could stop myself from finding the damn thing, from using it, maybe I could change things. It took the last of my willpower to click the crown back to the neutral position, the creeping discomfort gradually falling away. I looked around, the morning sun feeling unbearably hot on my face.
That’s when I felt a searing jolt of pain up my arm. The world turned sideways and I felt pavement pressing into my cheek, a warm sensation spreading over my face. I could hear the watch bouncing across the street, rolling into the gutter. As my failing vision faded to darkness I could hear voices. Something about an old man. Get help. Are you okay?
I tried to lift a hand, to call out to the man across the street. All I could see was a confused look in his sea-blue eyes, his hand wrapped around something he had found in the gutter. Maybe he could pull it off. After all, they say the third time is the charm.
I remember that once, I met somebody who claimed to be my daughter...
I remember that once, I met somebody who begged me to...
The night was cold and the wind was harsh. The sky, almost eerie with silent stars gazing down on the earth below, had a deep, dark hue of clear midnight. Some may have looked at the night and called it kind, blind with sweet love that masked their eyes. Some may have looked at the night and called it cruel, for the silence it harbored and the way it treated the world with such indifference. To me, the night wasn’t there. To me, the only thing that was there was the freezing asphalt under my bare feet, the blinding, flashing lights of the city, the wind that gnawed on my hair and the tear that was building up in my throat. Absent-mindedly, I wished that I had a snatched a jacket before I ran out. I also wished that I had my wallet with me. If hadn’t ran out. If I hadn’t decided to speak. If I hadn’t dreamed. If I hadn’t...
The long stream of if’s crowded my brain and fought for space. Already exhausted and not ready to fight myself, I crumbled onto the sidewalk. A droplet of water splashed to my side. However, the night sky was clear was day, peppered with bright, shining stars. It was only then that I finally saw the night sky, despite the hours I had spent wandering on the streets. It was lovely, perhaps too much so. People bustled by my side, glancing at whom they thought was a crazy woman that perhaps lost her way.
Such a lovely night, I thought. Such a lovely street. The neon signs beckoned and called people to visit, the murmurs and laughter hummed in the air, there was warmth, there was love. And midst of it all, me. A speck of gray in this splash of colors. A shadow among the light. Unfit, unwelcome and unappreciated. I didn’t belong here. I didn’t belong at home, I didn’t belong in the streets, I didn’t belong among these happy, beautiful people... where did I belong? I staggered up, forcing my legs to stay straight. The atmosphere pressed around me, choking me, pushing me out. I had to get out.... But to where? Where can an unwelcome person go? I didn’t want to go back to home yet. The door would be locked anyways, cruel and unrelenting to the one who had passed through thousands of times before. Perhaps, by a miraculous chance, it would be open. Open, and waiting for the escaped prisoner to come back and lock herself up once more. Just the mere thought of it made my heart race with fear. And then what? The words, the sacrifices, the sneers... I, couldn’t.
I was tired of being somebody’s doll. I was tired of blindly blundering through paths that others pushed me upon. I was tired, just so tired. Even running away, trying to escape, took effort and strength. It was something that I did not have. Exhausted, my legs gave out under me and I fell onto the ground. There was a fountain behind me, benches and trees all around. My unconsciousness had led me to a park. The park. The place of so many tales that my mother had told me about...
The night, the people, the light faded as I slipped into one of my memories. There was me, young, innocent, sitting on my mother’s lap as she told me her sweet stories... My dear, that park is special, she used to say. There, I met your dad... There, he proposed to me... There, I almost lost you. Then, I would ask - why? It was always the same stories, yet I was never tired of them. My mother had enjoyed the attention too. Holding me closer to her, she would whisper - When I was pregnant, I met somebody who claimed to be my daughter... I can’t remember what she said, but... You know that the fountain is in the middle of the park, right? It’s quite really fancy, and there are stairs leading up to the fountain.. Well, I fell over. I rolled over the stairs... I could’ve lost you right then and there. I’m so happy I didn’t. If your father didn’t catch me then...
She said she was happy that I lived. Perhaps she was then, but not anymore. I looked down at the stairs below me. I vaguely wondered how much it would hurt if I fell down. Probably not enough to die. How blissful it would have been if I was not born at all. Only if... only if. Somebody, who had been sitting nearby, suddenly stood up. I jolted at the unexpected movement, not having noticed the person until then. The person was wearing a black hoodie, and from where I was sitting, it was quite difficult to see the face under the hood. The lean, light limbs seemed to be those of a teenage boy, but there was also a faint grace to the movements that hinted there was a girl under the shadows. The teen nimbly walked down the stairs, seemingly unaware of a pocket watch that fell out of the jean pocket.
Well, at least I was aware of that.
Alarmed at the teen’s ignorance, I picked up the pocket watch and ran after her, or his tracks. There was a lot of people that bustled to and fro, blocking the way and masking the location of pocket watch’s owner. It was indeed a lively night. Half frustrated and half dumbfounded, I thrust my arm through the crowd and yelled at the top of my voice.
“Hey! Sir! Ma’am! You! You dropped your watch! Hey?!”
Unfortunately, my voice did not penetrate the thick noise of the streets. I was left alone, again, at the edge of the park, with a pocket watch in my hand and a sneer on my lips. I had lost my own way in life, yet I still struggled to help another person. As if I had that kind of privilege to care. As if I had that kind of energy to spare for another person. Maybe it was destined that I failed. Sighing, I looked down at the watch in my hand. It was a beautiful thing, a piece of art. The case seemed to be made of gold, and when I opened it I could see ornate patterns embossed within. Despite being dropped there was not a single scratch or dent anywhere. Intrigued, I pulled on the crown.
Silence. I would never be able to forget that moment. The stillness, the eerie feeling of death, the lack of life, dawned upon the night. Out of the blue, I remembered the theory of absolute zero in Kelvin - the degree in which it’ll be so cold that the atoms themselves will be frozen still. Well, I had frozen the time. Perhaps the only way to reach absolute zero degrees. Gulping down air, I pushed the crown back in. Instantly, the sound of life, murmuring, laughter, lights, flooded the night once more. People walked to and away from me, completely unaware of the miracle that just occurred. Nobody knew. Except for me. Maybe I did really go crazy. Maybe, I was only dreaming. Doubting my own eyes, I wound the clock forward. I stayed still. The world didn’t. I wound the clock back. I, again, stayed still. The world... rewound.
What if I was crazy? What if I was dreaming? It didn’t matter. If only I could do what I wanted to do. I wound the clock back, back, back, until I reached the fateful night, the night when my life was almost erased before it was written. It was meant to be. It had to be. After all, my own mother had told me, from her own lips... The me from the past, or more appropriately, the future, had failed. This time, I would not fail again.
I wound the watch backwards, back, back, round and round. The world itself seemed to spin with the clock hand, moons rising and falling, suns brightening and darkening, stars gleaming and fading... Time, for a moment, seemed to dissipate into the thin air, leaving only the jumbled present behind. Then it came again. It was a clear night, not unlike the one that I had just left. The moon was shining with a silver smile, the stars a little bit brighter, the air just a little bit frostier... but I was there. Leaping over hundreds of nights and days of tears, I have arrived to erase the future from time itself. I slowly walked up the steps. There was the fountain, shinier, newer, more vibrant. And in front of it, was my mother. Harboring me within her womb, it was before time had taken its toll upon her... Still radiant and beautiful with life. Oh, mother, how harsh time has been upon you. Upon both of us.
I stood in front of her. Looking down at her, I suddenly realized that my mother, was a petite woman. She had always seemed so tall, so powerful only hours ago... or, more appropriately, years in the future. But now, she was so tiny, almost fragile. She was, she looked, lovely.
“Hi...mom.” My voice cracked. What a fool I was. I slowly set down, making our heights even. Where should I start? My mother, mother-to-be, stared blankly at me, probably wondering why on the earth a madwoman was calling her mom. I continued on, without giving her time to speak.
“Do you believe in starting things that you know it’ll have a bad end? You know, kind of like Romeo and Juliet, you know that they’re going to die but you read it anyways... No, that’s off the point. What I want to say is that... Mom, I love you. I have always loved you and will love you. I can’t not love you. Time is a cruel thing, mom... It takes away our loved ones without mercy. Time took dad from us.”
Heat rose to my face and I realized that I was about to cry. But I mustn’t. Before I couldn’t talk anymore, before my voice was submerged with tears, I had to tell her everything. I had to persuade her. She had to know. I babbled on faster, more urgent, my words crashing against each other and falling senselessly into the air.
“And you... you couldn’t accept it. It was really hard... Living, just surviving, got hard. There was so much pressure on you... and on me. Dreams, weren’t stars to be reached for anymore. Dreams, were dreams because they couldn’t be... real. I had to see, mom, I had to see. I had to see what I can and can’t do, what I should and shouldn’t do. I wasn’t allowed to dream, only to follow. Because the world is harsh to those who dare to dream when there isn’t even time left to sleep.”
Oh, mother, did you know? You used to love my art, my dances, my songs... You used to call me your little artist, the one who paints the world brighter. Oh mother, do you remember? Do you remember the day when you screamed, that art only feeds the dreams while our stomachs go hungry? Oh, mother, do you? But you never will now. You will never, ever have to endure all of that again. Mother, you’ll be free. Free of me.
“Mom, please. I wanted to dream. I wanted to dare. I wanted so many things... so many things that I can’t get. Mom, my world is falling apart. I’m slowly losing my ground. I can’t think what life is worth if you can’t dream. Mom, I don’t want to live in the world that I can’t dream...that tells people to not dream...that punishes the people who dreams...”
“Excuse me, but honey -”
“Please, mom. One favor. Just one. Please, please don’t give birth to me. Please. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to go through this. I am tired. I can’t. Mom, I can’t.”
How frightening I must have looked! Disheveled hair, thin clothes, dirty feet, with tears streaming down the face... How odd and queer I would have seemed to others! My mother stared at me mutely. I waited. I wanted to hear her speak, I wanted to hear her say no, that was not true. I wanted her to lie, if possible, that she was never going to allow those awful things happen. I wanted her to say, to tell me, to never stop dreaming. I wanted her to say that my life was still, still...
But she didn’t. Her heavy silence weighed down on my body. Suddenly, I felt the fatigue of night. What was the point in trying anymore? Why did I try? Why didn’t I push her off the stairs, like I should have done from the very beginning? I roughly grabbed by mother by her arms and pushed her into the crowd. There was a short scream, rather out of surprise than fear. Her feet failed to find support, and she fell, fell, fell through the air, almost like a feather plucked from a bird. There was a loud scream, this time from the crowd. People were calling 911, shouting for help, for any kind of help...
And I crumbled against the fountain, dropping the watch and watching it slowly roll away...
...Until it arrived at the feet of a men who was staring into the crowd, as if he was in a dream. As if he was refusing the reality. I knew that man. He was the one who put band-aid onto my knees when I fell from the swing. He was the one who loved to sing the blues, which fitted well with his mellow tone... He was the one who time took from me, from mom.
The men slowly bent over, and picked up the pocket watch. And the only thing I could do was watch helplessly was I lay dying, as I was being erased from time itself.
All The Time In The World
Ask any Gypsy worth her crystal ball. Seeing into the future is not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, I would take the clear 20/20 of hindsight any day.
Even though, let's face it. I mean...
Let's just pause for a minute to think about it.
Looking back at what happened a minute ago, yesterday, years before, even back before time was anything more than a matter of light and dark and light again, there is no clarity in it at all. Just recollections that become murkier by the minute, more faded and distant with each... and every... passing... second...
Because, like the cataract covered eyes of an old crone whose alzheimers has finally reduced memories to haunting visions, looking back means looking forward to nothing more than a good hunch about what might happen... next.
Like the dinosaurs. It might be an educated guess, but it is still just a good hunch about what sort of cataclysmic event resulted in their running out of time. They heading off into the sunset of extinction, where time is nothing but a speculation and a point of occurance, lost in the infinity of other moments gathered and tossed to eternity. But at least that is something to go on. At least speculating about it is a way to pass the time.
That might provide some insight into the future. Because anything at all would be better than knowing tomorrow, the next day, a year from now, a million generations from now. Those moments in the future will come but seeing them coming feels like being tied to a train track. There you are... tied down to the inevitable...
Because this train is always on time. Every car it pulls filled with your dreams and aspirations, with a caboose of longing and hope hitched to the back. You lie between it and the station. No way to stop it... as it rolls... closer... and closer still, where you feel the rattle of the track and hear the humdrum of death about to roll over you.
So all you can really do is look down at your watch. Guess how much time is left, if any, before everything... past... present... future... all are passed.
As time rolls on.