This story is by Lorraine Jericevic and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Quick, we’re losing her.” I hear them say as I hover above my body, or what is left of it lying on the table.
“Time’s running out!”
But how can Time run out? That’s ridiculous. Where can Time run to?
Time is eternal, it doesn’t run out, like “Oh we’ve run out of coffee.
Never mind. I’ll get some after my run.”
That’s what I said, as I left home this morning. Too late now.
But Time is running out, I hear them repeat, as I watch the screen, lights flickering beeping and faltering. Gowned and masked figures, rushing, almost bumping into each other, running. Just like Time.
I smile, wondering where Time can run to. How can Time run?
Does Time have legs? I try to imagine it putting on running shoes.
“I’m just going for a run,” then under its breath “and don’t expect me back.”
Does it pack a bag, take a bus, catch a train? Say “I’ve had enough. I’m out of here. Goodbye.”
Then I remember.
I hadn’t said goodbye or even left a note.
“Goodbye, you might not see me again. Or at least not in one piece. Will you miss me? I’ll miss you.” Sad face.
“Wake up,” they repeat, calling my name, “Wake up. Time’s running out”
So much noise down there, amid the trolleys, trays and bottles. How can they work in all that chaos?
I peer at my body. Bones protruding, wires connecting me to the beeps.
Well, unlike Time, I won’t be going for a run any day soon. Not for a long time. If ever.
That was when it happened.
My daily run. How I hate to miss it. Mind and muscles combining, breath connecting, chest contracting, heart pounding. Unlike now.
Will Time get smashed into by a speeding car as it runs along, just as I did?
It won’t be able to run very far then. They will shake their heads and sigh, “Time is moving so slowly, hobbling even, get it some crutches.”
But Time doesn’t need legs. Time can fly. Especially when you are having fun. Was it flying above me as I danced last night? Just as I am flying now. Or rather hovering. Does Time need wings to fly?
Often I would wish Time would slow down, in those delicious moments of feeling fully alive, absorbing sunlight into every pore, watching children splash in water, or feeling the warmth of another body next to mine. Sometimes Time stood still, like the hush of a dragonfly landing on my finger.
Other times I would wish Time away. Hurry up. Let it be tomorrow, next week, next year. I have things to look forward to, places to go.
Where did Time go? Lost somewhere in my dreams?
How often did I say “Sorry I haven’t got time.”
But I like it up here. I feel so peaceful. I never knew I could feel so light. So serene. The lights here don’t glare like the harsh ones below. Here there are swirling colours. New, luminous colours, pulling me upwards. I glide through them feeling their touch like soft breath, as they flit around me in our ethereal dance. Is this my last dance?
I take a peep below.
This is so relaxing, like watching a medical drama on TV. Handsome doctor. Pretty nurse. Eyes locking above their masks. Secret glances. Maybe they met for the first time over my body. Hearts fluttering wildly, as mine flutters out. I remember that feeling. I am feeling it here. Only this longing is much more powerful.
They are playing music. Maybe it is a musical. Get ready to take your positions and dance. Doctors twirling nurses around the theatre. Then I realise that the music is mine. I am the music. I am made of sound. A soaring vibration. Dancing with light.
I look down, curious to know what will happen next, and am shocked to see myself lying silent on the table. Well, not my self, but my body. My mangled body. The real me is up here, weightless, uncaged.
“Hurry” the doctor repeats, “We have to move fast, we need to get her back. Time’s running out.”
Such control over Life and Death.
If I really wanted to, I could rise through that ceiling in one fluid movement. But do I want to? I am too fascinated watching below. I can’t look away. Torn between two worlds.
Should I stay here or should I go back to that body? I have no body up here, I just am. This is what bliss is. Merging into a holy chant of ecstasy. So divine.
My meditation class was never like this.
I am swimming through Light.
Perhaps Time can swim as well as run and fly. Swim along a river, into the sea. Turning into waves and crashing back down to return once more. Maybe that’s what Time is. “Once upon a time” the stories say, but what if it is twice upon a time? Or three times, or more?
Will I come back again in a different time, in some other body? A better one. That old one was getting pretty worn anyway. Even more battered now. Get a new body, like getting a new pair of running shoes when the old ones wear out.What shoes does Time wear to run in? Because it is running really fast now.
It is so peaceful up here and so noisy down there, with all the machines and the shouting.
I think I will stay here. Or rather leave there.
Just let me be. Floating in this glorious peace, calling me to another place.
“I think we’ve got her” I hear them say. “Just hold on.” They are calling my name over and over.
“Come on, Come on. Wake up! Wake up!”
I resist. Why would I want to go back? Would I really want to? My mind returns to things I haven’t done. Not things like saying “I love you” enough, but did I clear the dishes before I left? What sort of mess have I left behind? Who will remember to buy the coffee?
There is so much I have still to do. Sorry, I forgot to achieve.
But none of that matters now. Here it is so comforting, so floaty, so soft.
They are calling my name again. Maybe it is time to go. But go where?
Which way? How can I choose? But Time is running out and I must. Do I really want to leave that world?
Once I would have said “No!”
I thought I would cling on to Life, when the day came to be claimed. Screaming “Don’t take me.”
Why was I always so afraid of Death? Now I am afraid of Life.
Time is running out.
If I can just hold out a few more minutes. Resist them.
Spinning toward new sounds, new voices. Weightless. Buoyant. I am dancing.
I recall playing with my granny’s egg timer as a child. Turning it around as soon as the sand ran out. Over and over, watching each grain pass through, ready to start again. Sometimes I would turn the timer over before it had emptied. A bit like my life now. Sands of time running out before they are finished. I thought I would have longer.
Voices tug at me from both sides. Which way shall I go? Make up my mind time. Make up your mind, Time. I know if I go much further there is no return.
But Time is running out so I make my decision.
I am more aware now than I have ever been in my entire life and I don’t want to go back to that body. I have so much more freedom here, unconfined.
I drift away. Goodbye old life. It is like floating on warm water, cradled by invisible arms. Does Time exist out there?
There are soft whispers and I flow towards them.
But they are getting louder.
“Not now, go back. This isn’t your Time.”
The cradling arms release me and I find myself spinning through a tunnel of spiralling lights. The dance is over. I have no wings. I am no longer made of Light. I am no longer light. I am as heavy as darkness as I crash back down. It hurts. Like falling into ice.
The body on the table jolts.
“We’ve saved her.” The doctor wipes his brow.
The screen splutters, the sounds change. The pretty nurse gazes at him. There is silence as they hold their breath. He smiles at her.
Then they both look at the clock. Noting the time.
Time for coffee.