I'm in charge of time. I'm not special, you do it too. We can make it stop in the seconds before we're fully awake, in the faces of eye-catching strangers and in the moments we recall fresh holiday memories on flights back home; clutching at the sun and the different mineral tasting water, we remember so we can forget that it'll never be real again. We're cancelling out time.
I think about this often--where has it all gone? Time used to be so dense. Now it seems like I've exchanged it for the hope of not dying alone. I'm going off. The mold of time is festering on all my surfaces, showing on the backs of my hands.
Life is still now, like a stagnant puddle. Days drop into it, events ripple in outward splaying circles and melt away into flatness.
I never meant to hurt Nathaniel. Inevitable, yes, but planned? Not consciously. What a cop out--as if your subconscious isn't part of you. As though it's an entity that runs riot inside of you, something to battle against like a scurrying, flapping chicken. Really it's the only important thing, it's your innateness, the purest you. The you that you are when nobody is around.
The me I was in Paul's arms was a me that packed my seconds until I thought a nebula would be born from my chest. There's a desperate kind of scrambling in a middle-aged affair, a greediness. I binged and purged on Paul. Nathaniel smelled the vomit on my breath.
Nathaniel was never meant to be a backup. He proposed sitting on the high ceiling beams of our favorite open-mic night and hung upside down like a bat to kiss me when I said yes. He kissed my neck when I painted too. Over time my art swelled into swathes of stormy grey and blue, indistinct huddled figures and thick globules of color. It was about then, just after our second child, that he asked me to move my painting area into the garden shed. Out of sight, out of mind. Our relationship was a dying explorer with a gangrenous leg, asked to die quietly and retain its dignity making its time of death impossible to pinpoint.
Now I fill my days visiting acquaintances I've known for years, moms of my children's friends. Their houses are museums locked into a time that exists just on long lost shopping lists and were never really there; shelves of counterfeit copies of artifacts that proclaim happiness but I can't slip into. I can't find a crack to squeeze through to get to anything real inside of these people.
Later, looking into their entranced faces, with the TV reflecting in their dewy eyes, I wonder if we're contagious to our children--these little bendy straws that suck up the world. The smell of vanilla wafts off my wrists as I close the door quietly behind me and jog to Paul's car around the corner.
Ellie Knightsbridge is from London and enjoys such things as peeling stickers off fruit and binging on TV box sets.