The Quiet Journey of Time

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 08, 2016

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Submitted: November 08, 2016




The four of us sat around the kitchen table, connected only through the uneasy silence of the hour. The curtains had instinctively been drawn by Matilda, as though a voice had compelled her to do so without providing a reason, and she'd merely followed commands uttered from the depths of her subconscious. In reality, the drawn curtains were just a nice touch, for they acted as a veil through which the evening sun filtered, painting the whole kitchen a shade of crimson. Somehow, this brought our bodies closer together, yet our souls had never been further apart. 

Directly across from me sat Richard, tapping his fingers on the table as if expecting his meal to arrive. This annoyed me at first, but when I paid close attention, I realized that his fingers were following a pre-established rhythm, and the rhythm was of a childhood song he and I used to sing when we roamed the countryside together. The annoyance then turned into nostalgia, and eventually led to a sense of dread that negated the cozy atmosphere of the house. What bothered me the most about this was that no matter how hard I tried, the words to the song did not come to me. 'Damn you Richard', I thought to myself, 'still to this day, you manage to cause me pain.' 

We heard the tick tick of the clock, the only sound that dared to create a gap in the quietude of the moment. Yet despite having so much to say, neither of us was able to fill this gap with words. So the constant ticking of the clock only served as a reminder that precious time was passing, that every second wasted was indeed at stake and we would never get it back. The chair to my right was occupied by Gloria, whose fixed stare upon the clock marked her as the only possible observer of time. Or perhaps her eyes were focused on Matilda sitting across from her - after all, the two of them had not seen each other in years until we were brought together under a common concern. And in the end it was Richard who spoke first, bringing into focus the issue at hand. 
'So, what are we going to do about this letter?' 
His question was followed by an oppressive silence. No words were said for what felt like one second stretched into eternity. 
'Oh for fuck sake', Matilda said suddenly, 'I wrote this letter years ago when I still had feelings for him. The fact that you came across it now is only an unfortunate coincidence.'
Silence again, this time deeper. 
It was once more Richard who uttered a cynical chuckle and said, 'Matilda, you have lied to me before, so give me one good reason to believe you right now.'  
All of us turned to her at the same time. An answer was expected. But she merely bit her lips and looked away. 
'Yeah, I thought so. We are done Matilda.' 

After Richard expressed his displeasure, he began tracing the rim of his coffee cup with his fingertip. He stared at the cup as if it contained the remedy to all his wounds, but he simply needed another point of interest to distract him from Matilda. I used this opportunity and shifted my focus to the woman who had once been my lover. There was so much that I wanted to say to her, many missed opportunities that I longed to make up for. But now was not the time. Maybe another day. For now, a lock of her golden hair was enough to revive memories of bygone days, and when I recalled with vivid detail the beauty of my youth, I saw it all again in Matilda's blue eyes. So much was lost because I never learned to speak. So much pain because I simply looked the other way. So much misery that perhaps could have been avoided if my lips hadn't been sewn. But now was not the time for playing the blame game, I needed to focus and resolve this situation. 

After some time went by, Gloria cleared her throat and said, 'Guys, I really think we need to drop this. What's the point of holding on to past grudges? We have to work together to get through this, and I think that's what Jacob would have wanted.' And then it hit me. My heart began to palpitate. I could feel sweat forming between my brows. I tried to wipe it away, only to discover to my dismay that I was missing not only my hands, but also my entire body. I was invisible, a ghost. It took little effort for me to realize what had happened: I was a dead man. Once I acknowledged this fact, the details started to pour into my brain one by one of how I'd tied the noose around my neck when I found out that Matilda was to marry Richard, and how Gloria was the one who talked me down, cared for me, nurtured me back to sanity. Perhaps that was the foundation upon which our rocky relationship was built. Perhaps I needed a nurse more than a wife, a woman who would help me put Matilda's memory to rest. But Matilda always lingered somewhere inside me, and her image came to the forefront of my mind on the day I was contacted by Richard. He'd found a letter written by Matilda, in which she'd professed her love for me, and had said that marrying Richard was simply the logical course to take, but that didn't mean that our bond was broken - if anything, our bond gained strength as a result of her marriage to another man. And all these beautiful words were said in solitude for only our shadows to hear, I remaining silent lest I made Matilda upset, and her not saying a word because she never knew how to speak. Richard and Gloria were mere victims of this silent display of cowardice, both simple people whose virtues far outweighed their vice. They both helped us in their own way with problems they couldn't quite grasp, for Matilda and I had chosen to hide it from them. But the letter had compelled me to do what I hadn't done on the day of Matilda's marriage, and this time I made sure to do it when Gloria was away. Two days later they'd found my body hanging from a leaking pipe. 'A suicide', they'd concluded, 'with no clear motivation to speak of.' 

We thought we knew each other, but time proved otherwise, and maybe this was why we refused to acknowledge it. We lived our lives choosing to ignore time and its passing, yet being caught up in it all the same. We loved our friends but failed to express that love. We felt sorrow but refused to admit its existence, afraid that such a feeling may cause us to lose control. After all, we were happy people always in control, and we didn't want anything to take that away from us. So we did what we wanted to without knowing why until time caught up with us. We lied to those around us just to maintain an illusion of happiness, and we eventually believed in that happiness ourselves, where in reality our souls cried out for help. Yes, my dear friend, many people never learned to accept their humanity, thinking happiness the norm and sadness an unnatural state of mind. But enough of my yammering. Allow me to say what happened after, for I am now well aware of my role as a narrator. 

Soon my Gloria left Matilda's house in tears. Richard wept in silence and mourned my loss once again, all the while wishing that he could have killed me with his own hands. And Matilda...well, Matilda did not know how to feel, but most likely her soul was the one that needed a release more than anyone else's. 

As for me, my friend, there is really not much to say. I became tethered to the wooden chair and our illusive reality, lost in an infinite moment amongst a myriad of confused souls who longed for another chance to live, for another chance to speak, and for another chance to love. 


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