“Excuse me, do you have the time?”
Countless fetal remarks bubbled up all at once, clogging the exit of my vocal pipes. My wit had failed me and I simply stood there, staring as he walked away. I had so much to say, and yet the vastness of language did not suffice.
But, I had somewhere to be, didn’t I? Just now. Right before the obscene audacity of that devilish drifter scrambled my thoughts, essentially shaking the proverbial etch-a-sketch of my brain. Was I not headed somewhere? Doing something? Otherwise, why on earth would I need the time anyways? But just as time speeds right through us, one way, never to return again, so does the memory of my destination seem to have flown somewhere far away. And here I am, still, haven’t moved, where to and why bother? Without purpose, moving at all would simply be a waste of energy.
Pondering my predicament, the first thought to come to me was to try and ask one of the people on this busy sidewalk for their assistance. Quickly, and with great frustration, I shot down this idea. Reason being, it was utter nonsense. What could a complete stranger possibly tell me about my day?
Fighting the urge to pace back and forth is a funny thing. The more I resist, the more space it occupies in my mind, the less processing power remains to remember whatever it is I’m supposed to remember. And yet, it feels like I’m moving. But I’m not. I might as well be a statue carved in stone. An ancient sculpture, aptly titled “The Eternal Fool”. My eyes haven’t moved either. They don’t blink. They’re focused on the same infinitely small point in the distance. So deeply, in fact, that they’ve essentially gone blind. I’ve reached the end of the tunnel vision and found only white. I cease to exist, if only for a moment.
A push and a shove ease me back into the world. As it turns out, while I drifted in the ether, someone needed the space I was using.
Upon my return, something curious happened, for the sudden movement seems to have kickstarted my brain. No, I’ve yet to remember where I was going, or what I was doing, but a part of me that had been dormant this entire time was suddenly awoken. In a second, an intense dread spread out from my stomach all the way to the ends of each of my limbs. An abrupt realization of the terrifying finality of time has taken over me, shaken me up, and quite honestly, I’m now in a hurry. What should I do? Anything, it doesn’t matter, but something has to be done.
I find myself now a completely different man. My resolve to remain petrified withered completely, and now I move. I move from here to there, back and forth and all around. I move my legs, my toes. I move my arms, my hands and even my fingers, each as if it was its own entity. Sentient. Free. Nothing stays in position, no time to lose. I’m trying to make up for all the time I’ve wasted now. Standing still, even for a second, hurts too much. Worries me too much. I’m hyper-aware of any hair, any muscle, any bone, any cell in my body losing momentum, it scares me like nothing else.
I desperately look around me for any clues. Stumbling around through the waves of purposeful people, direction driven people, I inspect my surroundings. My eyes dashing from one possible landmark to the next, skimming through the details of my scenario. If I look back, sure, I can see where I’ve been, but what’s the use? In my estimation, it seems, I’m so far along my journey that directions like that are meaningless. Going forward, back, left or right, every which way could lead me further astray. Where I am is simply where I am, it tells me nothing of where I’m going.
Facing my crushing defeat, I close my eyes. The jittery energy in my body demands action. Anxiety trumps reason and, all of a sudden, my first idea (the only idea I had) does not seem all that worthless. Even though it is. I run around trying to reach out to the hundreds or maybe thousands of souls that march through the sidewalks. As I try to get a word in, their heads twist and tilt, their faces elude me. Obscured, perhaps, by their indifference, I can’t seem to make out their features. They keep walking, around me, away from me. For all I know, I may be gone already. Is that it? Did I somehow miss the leak in my clock, that exhausted all its sand without my noticing.
Vertigo has finally brought me to the ground. Sitting on the warm pavement of this street, I think about how much I want to just be. I want to breathe, I want to go wherever, whenever and with whomever. I want to live. I need life so badly. I don’t care much for where I was or what I was doing anymore, I just don’t want this to be the end. I want to get up. I try to get up. But it’s like my movements aren’t much my own anymore. My body is swaying around at will, I have no control.
Over on the opposite end of the street, I see a man looking at me. And the thing is, it’s not just me that sees him, but he sees me. He’s just standing there looking at me, as I keep trying to get back up, and for some reason this makes me feel ecstatic. Perhaps I’m not done for. Perhaps this isn’t the end. I’m still here and there’s still hope for me. I get back up and rush for him, my muscles still feeling weak, I approach him clumsily. There’s so many emotions running through my body, in a way, I feel more alive than ever. I want to say so much. He’s staring at me with little concern, despite the fact that I must look like a mess, and it’s comforting. Right next to him now, and my decision to let go of the past and live for what I still have left brings me to him with only one question.
“Excuse me, do you have the time?”
He smiled and walked away.