You woke up this morning. Your heart was beating, your lungs were breathing, and all was normal . . . like yesterday . . . and the day before . . . and the day before that . . .
Everything was as it should be . . . but not as it could be.
You roll out of bed, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and let your gaze fall upon your hands. Every wrinkle, cut, and scar on the skin. They all have a story.
Some good. Some bad. Some funny. Some . . . tragic.
You pause for a moment and reflect: there has never been a time when you recall your hands not being marred in some way. Sure, there had to have been a time at some point, but not one that you remember. Neither do you remember what the first imperfection inflicted upon your skin was – all you know is that you lost count of them a long time ago.
You look up.
There sits yesterday staring back at you.
Like looking into a grossly distorted mirror, you-as-you-are examines you-as-you-were. You lock eyes and take a step toward each other.
You-as-you-were is talking now. You-as-you-are cannot bear what is before you.
So, you choose to see but do not perceive. You choose to hear, but do not listen. You choose to take another step closer . . . and another step . . . and another . . .
You-as-you-are steps into you-as-you-were as you traverse into yesterday.
You do not like yesterday. You will change it.
So, you start with the small things.
A phone call . . . a conversation . . . a pocketful of change for parking.
But, as everyone knows, small becomes less-small, which grows to moderate, which, in turn, snowballs to large and grandiose (and so-on and so-forth) until, before you realize it, you’ve broken the fourth-dimension itself. Then your beginning becomes the future, the future your past, the past your present. The very thing you’ve always been running from becomes your life, your existence.
It becomes you and you become it.
A song on the radio . . . a red light . . . a cup of black coffee.
Fortunately – since you’ve effectively shattered time – eternity is only a moment.
No more. No less.
A spoonful of sugar . . . a familiar face . . . a mask.
Because, after all, time has become no more, but it is still no less. For now you have all the time in the world. In fact, time is all you have. For you have no more.
No more friends.
No more family.
No more status, wealth, dreams, aspirations, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera . . .
And, most importantly, you have no memories, because (surely you recall?) your past is no longer the past, but rather the present (which no longer exists at all).
Now you have nothing.
A dimly lit stage . . . fumbled lines . . . questions left unasked.
For you see, without the past there can be no today and no future. Without mistakes and failures you have no tomorrow worth escaping to. Of course, you didn’t realize that when you tried to change time . . . so you broke it. You man-handled the universe and haphazardly bent physics and snapped the natural world in half. By trying to fix what shaped who you are, you carelessly shaped a broken you.
Worries in the future, troubles in the present, and trying to escape your past,
Spinning, spinning, spinning . . .
All you got was nowhere fast.
For to be, you must have been;
To dream, you first must have dreamt.
And all that is left for you to do is wonder: “What did I do? . . . What am I doing? . . . What will I do?”
Now, you are nothing and nothing is you.
A vacant chair . . . a goodbye . . . Jekyll and Hyde.
By fixing the past you fractured time; by fracturing time you made the past fixed.
For Time is a fragile thing.
Born upon butterfly wings.
Precious and bittersweet.
A vapor in the ocean breeze.
Now the world around you dissolves like snow into an endlessly looping sea of grey. All the while, the distant horizon of your future-present-past dims to silhouette, in a manner distinctly unclear. Oh, so distant . . . yet so near.
There is no warmth in this ocean; neither is there chill.
There is also no depth . . . no breadth . . . no east . . . no west . . . no north, or south, up, or down . . . no joy, or sorrow, yesterday, tomorrow, love, or hate, condemnation, nor praise . . . no “yes,” no “No,” no “stop,” or “go,” or light, or dark, nor the thump-thump-thumping of your beating heart to keep you company . . . there is no sound, no motion, no peace . . .
There is only you and the sea.
Who you were . . . are . . . and ever will be: all three occupy this moment … this eternity.
There is nothing now.
Glassy eyes . . . your soul spilled out onto a post-it note . . . a handful of pills.
You raise your hand – the last piece of your humanity – and you find the skin new, flawless, smooth . . . like a newborn infant . . . or a porcelain doll . . . or like one who has never lived at all.
You slowly begin to sink,
An expired parking meter . . . an empty mug.
To the bottom of the placid sea.
A crooked smile . . . thin air.
All around the silence shrieks:
Beauty and rage . . . a bitter taste.
“Entropy . . . entropy . . . entropy.”
Butterflies . . . chaos theory.
Noah Burger is an English Secondary Education major. He enjoys playing guitar, singing, writing songs, and leading worship at his church. He is an avid coffee enthusiast. He hopes to have a career teaching students from disadvantaged backgrounds in either the U.S. or abroad.