pieces and absent time
How much time had passed?
This is not where I was a second ago.
I had moved through the rooms of someone else’s house. Each room was sparsely furnished, a strange mix of smells and showing its age. The walls were covered with ink and paint in bizarre forms inspired by figments and monsters. The tenants of each room lounged as close to the floor as possible as the smoke piled high above them, almost obscuring the ceiling. Perhaps a party that has progressed too far, been pushed too long, or else perhaps this was a tweaker pad or squatters’ dominion. I don’t know why I was there.
Suddenly I wasn’t. I was in a hospital. Strange things were happening on the top floors. I wasn’t there; I was in the stairwell, but somehow I knew that the man at the topmost room was flailing violently, half dressed in his street clothes he managed to find with the upper half of him still donning the hospital gown. He was shouting incoherent phrases and gathering ‘weapons’ in a paranoid attack. In my mind’s eye, I saw him fill a bath tub while scrambling to pull wire from the lights and the ceiling. He stepped one foot in the tub as it overflowed and the room filled with white, crackling electricity. Nurses and doctors clamored to get up to the room. Every one of them would be more than a minute late to save his body; they were already months late to save his sanity and years late to save any shred of what could be identified as the man’s Self.
Why is he walking away? What happened?
I try to get him to calm down. My car is still running outside, but I leave it to pursue him, another composite image of all the faces of when things went sour. Apparently we had an argument, but I don’t remember it. He pities himself; he is huffy with me. He pushes me away, saying that he will walk ‘home,’ whatever that tone in which he says the word is supposed to connote. I try my pleas a few more times, but to no avail. I get the feeling that this (whatever it is) is irreparable. I tell him so. “We’ll never get over this, you know that right? It will never go away. This will be the breaking point.” He acknowledges the statement with no more than a shrug. He walks off callously, licking his imaginary wounds. Feelings of disdain and resentment rise up in me; his exit strikes me as unjust.
I am sitting in the car (I think… the images are like ice melting downhill). I am also walking through a different apartment that is supposedly mine. I am also in the pool, talking to high school varsity swimmers. In the car, we are talking about the recent events, about missed meetings or opportunities. In the apartment, I am observing the pieces of furniture that I don’t quite remember. In the pool, I am training the swimmers. The events I mention seem to elude my partner. I am lost in the apartment. The swimmers look a bit rusty. Everything seems strange and off. I start asking questions, giving myself a reality check. I find out that it is the beginning of June, not the end of August. (Is it all the same year?)
I’ve lost time. No, I gained time.
In the car I realize that I have to repeat all the work I just put in, but my vacation and meetings are still ahead of me. Things can be done in a different manner perhaps, but is that appropriate? And how do I know the reset button will not be pushed again? I am filled with conflicting feelings of defeat, anxiety, and intrigue.
From the apartment we can hear a scream from down the hall. “Maggie! NO!” We run to the old woman’s place. We can help save Maggie. This would have never been possible in my other timeline. Maggie was a ferret that had ingested ball bearings, and now she was choking. I was entrusted with her while the woman fetched her keys and my friends tried to get things in order to go to the hospital. She ate 5 ball bearings, and some were lodged too deep for me to work out gently with massage; while she was no longer choking, she needed surgery. It was chaos getting her to the hospital, but I knew that because of our efforts, Maggie would be ok.
With the swimmers, I saw the opportunity to help create a stronger team, one that could succeed where their other timeline failed. I got to know the girls afresh; I got to know what brought out the warrior in them. This is what was to be used to make them unstoppable.