Time has passed. Time is past. Time will pass. Time is a passing. A passage of time. Passed by time.
Imagine being lost in your own life. That’s too abstract; let me rephrase. I am a fourteen year old man-child in the body of my thirty-seven year old self. I am in my own house, living my own life, yet I am lost. There is a woman here. Like, an actual human being. And a child; and two dogs. This is the life I have constructed. This house is something I am truly intimidated by. This is my space, and I can feel my actual self, woven in to every single thing I see. Yet it is alien to me. I have no doubt that the future me – the old guy – is comfortable here. But I have no idea what I am doing. I’m scared here.
Every day is exactly the same. Every event leads to precisely the same outcome. Every change we make will be undone. Every date has progressed twenty-four hours backwards and we cannot see it.
We have sought, and perhaps found, some kind of conversational middle ground. We woke up in bed together. Naked. We have a child together. We clearly know each other quite well. You know?
A bubble of soap stuck on the end of a straw. A plastic straw. It hangs, droops, does not fall. Not yet.
She’s no help. She thinks she is, but she’s just treading water. I can tell she’s scared by the way she chews her lip, but she denies it. She’s keeping it together to stop the child from freaking out. Yeah, freaking out now would be a mistake: there’s a baby on the way. That’s the proper time to freak out.
The maintenance of a life is beyond my skill set. I have been told that it will come to me at some point in my life – the child spake, hence it is truth – but I don’t have the understanding right now to cope. All I can do for now is switch the TV on and wait for the messages. They still come through.
She didn’t believe me initially; thought that they must be some kind of mental aberration. They were illogical, therefore they were false. That’s reasoning, that is. The problem is that I saw them. I was sure at the time that she had seen them too. Perhaps I was wrong about it. I don’t think that I am.
I have a whole two decades and change ahead of me before I catch up with myself. Is that how long it will take to acquire the skills necessary to do all of this? What about those experiences? If I am not having them now, how will they shape the person I was in this place? Should it not be crumbling?
“Are you just going to sit there all day?… You can’t just sit and wait for it to come back; things need to be done… Look around you: this place is filthy. It all needs to be cleaned, and it can’t just be me doing it… In case you’ve missed it your daughter needs to be doing more than just sitting on the sofa, watching TV all day. I know she’s happy, but she needs exercise. She’s at school tomorrow.”
“When did you put the dishes away? I didn’t hear you get up. How come the fridge is full again? Did you do that? Are you just going to sit watching TV again all day? It’s not coming back, you know?”
“You’ve been sitting there for three days now. You’ve not even washed. Is this how you normally live your life? How have you not died from dysentery?… Do I have to let the dogs – the boys – out again? How is that my responsibility when they’re your dogs too? I don’t know what ceramic sand is, never mind where we keep it. I know she’s happy, but she needs exercise. She’s back at school tomorrow.”
“When did you go to the shops? How come I never hear you put the dishes away every day? Do you do it in the middle of the night? Do you even realise how difficult you are to live with? Do you?”
A visual quote is an image which sums up, encapsulates – in a metaphor – a story or a situation. I am struggling to find one to define the life we’re experiencing here and now. I know it’s on the tip of my mind, but I just can’t pick it off. I can see us separately, but not as a unified force. There was an initial state, and then there came a continuity. But a discrete continuity. Life is jagged and keeps repeating.
Does a hamster running on a wheel view the track as a straight line, a limited thing, or as a way to burn off the excess energy? Do they understand that the similarity of every step actually means that they are repeating their path? Would they feel any better if they were told the truth of the wheel?
What do I even do for a living? What does anyone do in this time? I see lots of screens, and lots of black boxes, but no indication of what any of it means. One night I spent a few hours, after they were all asleep, looking through the office stuff. I found the switches eventually and turned it all on. Boxes lit up and screens filled with noise. I watched a telephone as it went through its boot routine again and again. I woke up in bed again. Naked again. With no resolution to any of it. Must try again.
The air outside was still, as always. There had been no movement in the street. We had both sensed that there were people coming and going, but there was no definite sign that this was actually the case. A dog sniffed inquisitively at the garden gate while the other pre-empted a world of unseen threats with a bark. The dolomite underfoot smelled of piss. I kicked, bored, at a stray dandelion.
I can’t decide which way to go. There is a pull. A pull beyond this place. And yet something holds me back. Irrelevant. This is a street which I find less than familiar, but I feel that my best course of action is to turn right. The image of a snowy Christmas morning leaves my mind as quickly as it enters.
My feet remain planted at the garden gate as the dogs continue their perambulations and incessant vocal objections. I know that causality will remain in balance, but I feel the draw to tip the scales all the same. Running won’t help; it is motion all the same. There is nothing and no one I am likely to catch out here, so I might as well just go for it. And suddenly I am there: the skein pulls back my skin.
Light splashes; sound drops; pressure sweeps and dimensions cease. Do I wake up in my bed again?