She used to be respected. Or maybe she was just noticed.
Like, people looked her way and thought to themselves, "damn, she's got it together."
They would gaze for a few moments longer. They never understood why, though. She was just another girl on a giant college campus. She wasn't outstandingly beautiful, nor did she go out of her way to even be noticed. But they didn't look elsewhere right away, for some reason or another.Things like that, they just kind of happen. Like when you just happen to be glancing at the clock the very second it hops to the next line down.
It's never a gradual movement, the shifting of the clock hand. The minute hand jumps spastically, as if every sixty seconds a crinkly old lady with a twine-doll and a needle stabbed the minute hand into action. And when you were lucky enough to see that motion, that hop to the next minute in time, it's somehow a huge moment. Somehow, you just witnessed time pass, right before your innocent eyes. That simple, shy movement is something so much bigger when you actually sit down to think about it.
The last time I saw the minute hand move, I remember thinking to myself how rare it was to see that. And maybe I just don't notice it unless I happen to be staring at the break room clock trying to figure out exactly how wrong the time is-
But it's also unsettling. Another minute has passed, and you spent the last five seconds or so preparing to witness something so miniscule and gigantic, something so paradoxical that trying to grasp the words to define this moment is harder than telling someone what breathing is like-
The second hand, though, glides smoothly around the clock face like a ballerina on the pedestal of your childhood music box- that is, before you spent too many hours trying to watch the exact moment she sprang to life. The second hand is calm, and the minute hand soothes. You can always count on the second hand to carry you into the next minute or hour or whatever.
Remember how the clock in you most hatred high school class seemed so slow? How every time you looked at it, hoping that enough time had passed that you could actually get excited to break down the door and back into the hallway where your boyfriend was waiting for you just a few doors down?
Remember how the minute hand would get stuck just before noon? It would pause right at the top, too weary to make the transition to the latter half of the day, just needing some time to catch its breath. Then it would suddenly skip to 12:01 and somehow, somehow, you just sat through two minutes worth of time in one? Like a two for one deal on time, except you supremely got suckered into losing a precious minute of your day. I mean, you were sitting in English lit anyway and let's be real, this essay wasn't happening to begin with.
It was a moment that was so overlooked at the time, that pause in time. Of course, only the minute hand had to take a rest. The trusty little red second hand chugged on like the hare lapping the tortoise because that's what it was supposed to do- the second hand has no choice but to keep on moving, to keep spinning around the clock face and making sure our lives were right on schedule.
Because the minute hand paused at 11:59. And the second hand never quits.
So much of your life was dictated by these two thin strips of metal, or plastic, or whatever the fuck clock hands are made of. You were always on time for the next part of life as long as the second hand kept its promise to you, to your classmates, to the whole damn world.
That pause, at 11:59. What if the minute hand had never recovered? What if it permanently stopped right before noon, too weak to make that leap into the future?
It would seem like an insignificant moment suddenly crystallized into history-this death of the minute hand is important. It matters. You can't stop staring at it, you wonder if it will be 11:59 forever, you wonder if time will stop for good.
The second hand carries the burden of two now. The only way to accurately read the time is to always keep an eye on the second hand-or two, if you're truly dedicated to knowing the time- and when it hits you that the minute hand will never recover, you don't care anymore. You zone out, your teacher murmurs passages from some lame book and you start to drift off..
The girl you were gazing at on your college campus has noticed you staring at her. She hesitates for a moment, as if she recognizes you.
But no. No sense of who you are.
As she turns to walk onto the next part of her day, you wonder if her life has paused at 11:59. You wonder who she is, what she does, what happened to her that made her minute hand die-
You wonder why you care.
You carry on with your life.
And your minute hand jumps, suddenly awake.