Time

Time

by Petya Bankov

The Runner was sitting in the endless room where all the winds gathered for a motionless rest. He was staring at the tall clock in front of him, whose seconds’ hand wriggled slowly into a smeared stain. The hour and minute hands moved back and forth simultaneously, as if time didn’t exist at this place. On the contrary though, it did exist there, and this particular place was Time’s very own home. The floor had huge, black and white checkmate tiles, which could lead you any direction including up and down, and in and out at the same time. They would swivel around in a spiral, which swiveled around itself, to form a magnificent and illusionary tightly confined, vast space. The Runner wasn’t going anywhere. He was waiting patiently, watching intensively the clock. A small, shiny, silvery drop appeared on the face of the clock. Slowly it turned into a mercury-like streak and streamed down, getting larger and larger. It reached the floor and started raising up in the air taking all kinds of shapes, which constantly melted into new ones, reflecting the black and white landscape. It stood straight in front of the Runner, not too big and at the same time quite immense.
– Hello, Runner – the voice was like a deep whisper coming from all directions.

– Hello, Time – said the Runner, while standing up in an attempt to catch up the size difference.
– I am quite impressed you found the time – Time gave a huge silvery smile – to stop running and honor me with your patience.
– As a matter of fact, Time, I have the patience to wait for you, because I wish to ask you something. You know I am the fastest Runner in the Universe. I am, if you like, the symbol of Freedom, I am the Independence itself! Despite that, you in your profound inability to not interfere with everything that exists and does not exist, you always get in my way. You are always where I am, you don’t let me escape, no matter how fast I run, no matter what direction or place in Space I am. I came here to ask you to leave me alone. Let me live up to my destination! They say “Run! There is no time”. This is so wrong! They run precisely because there IS time. If there’s no time, if past, present and future meet at the same spot, why would they run? Free me from yourself! Let me run even though there is no Time whatsoever!
– All right, Runner. That is not hard to do. I will let it be. You are Free to go! – the whisper barely exhaled the last words.
The mercury alloy bulged out like a monstrous mushroom, reflecting the Runner in millions different shapes and angles. The Runner felt he will be smashed in a thick sea of liquid silver, but instead, the alloy immensely and silently splashed all over, not even touching him. In just a few seconds, or maybe years, it embraced the whole place and everything vanished without a trace as if nothing has ever been there. The Runner stood stunned in the dark vastness of nothingness, trying to realize if it was all reality or his very own strange imagination.
Then, he started running. All around the Space, in any moment, in many moments together. He was really the fastest, the most independent and free thing that ever was, and ever would be. He had a blast. He was everything and everywhere. Even Happiness was envious of him, because poor Happiness, wasn’t sure if she even existed, in the first place, and that troubled her a lot. She also craved to be everywhere and be able to spread out fast, but she simply couldn’t.
So, the Runner seemed to be the ultimate, universal creation, he was the Perfection in her most perfect form. He was the fulfilled desire, the met expectation, the reaching of the unreachable, the possibility of the impossible.
But suddenly, at one point of his endless running, the Runner stopped. Right next to him, as if waiting for a while, was the shiny, amorphous figure of Time itself.
– You know, it takes time for that – Time whispered – it takes time to stop…
– I know, Time. I have to talk to you again… – the Runner seemed a bit confused.
– Go on, I have all the time in the world – Time shook violently in an explosion of laughter.
– I’ve been everything I wanted. I did everything I wanted. But I realized I was never there. I’ve always run so fast, I missed many things. I was always ahead of you, always ahead of time… I actually never was able to be in the moment. I was always in the future. I took shapes of ideas, dreams, desires, foresight’s, expectations… but I never really existed. I want to be there, Time. I want to live in the moment. I will still be the Runner, but I need to be able to stop, I need to exist…
The immense bubbling body of Time bent down, getting closer to the Runner.
– Here – he whispered slowly – take your time. Or what’s left of it.
A floating stream of melted mercury glided forward, taking the shape of what would look like a palm, carrying a small silvery box with a clock face on the lid.
The Runner took the box and noticed that the hands of the clock’s face were moving. Somehow he got the chilly feeling that this clock looks kind of old and worn out. A flashy thought flew through his mind that this clock is not going to run forever. He swiftly opened the lid. In that moment, tens of large and small, soft silvery balls drifted out of the box and floated in slow motion in front of him. He could see his reflection in all of them.
– These are the moments you have left – said Time quietly.
The Runner stared for a moment. Then he briskly jumped, spread his arms, opened wide his eyes and mouth, as if trying not miss a single bit of it, and without even choosing a specific ball, he dove into its molten silver and disappeared.