Years pass… The sun sets and rises as if it possesses a mind of its own. I forget things. I forget who I am.
Dawn and Mia become more and more human. Soon, we are indistinguishable from others of our kind. Time exhibits an absurd regularity – so too, for that matter, does space. The measuring devices of this unreal world prove themselves to be nearly infallible.
I know I am lost but it seems an insignificant price to pay. My little successes, after all, bring rewards. All that’s needed is for me to tighten the muscles of my jaw, draw up the perimeter of my vision. Along the way, I see how unnecessary it is to be aware of peripheral things.
One day however, lying on the couch with a book in my hand, I succumb to a light sleep. This almost never happens to me. It seems insignificant, even though, upon waking, I note an unexpected shift in position of the hands of the clock.
As I move through the rest of the day, a feeling comes over me that I have not been asleep. For each time I happen to glance at a timepiece I have a sense that the hour has inordinately accelerated.
After several iterations of this increasingly strange sensation, I call Dawn just to anchor my experience within her familiar frame of reference. She is out of the office. I leave a brief voice message and – so as not to alarm her – make no reference to what I am experiencing.
I call Mia.
“Hi Art, what’s wrong?”
“Why? Do I sound like something’s wrong?”
“Yes. Are you OK?”
“I don’t know. I feel strange. It’s like… I’m losing…forgetting…things – what I’ve just been doing. I know I’m here doing something …but when I look up at the clock…an hour has gone by. And I can’t really remember what I was doing for all that time…”
“Art…just stay there. I’m going to leave work and come home. Did you call Dawn?”
“Yeah, she wasn’t in. I just I left an innocuous message…I’m OK though. You don’t have to leave work…I feel a little… spaced or something. Whatever happened, I think it’s over. I mean… I can’t really remember… but…”
“Art. I’m coming home…now. I love you.”
“Yeah…OK. Yeah…I guess that would be good. I love you, too. Thanks.”
A few minutes pass. Dawn calls.
“Art, I’m on my way home. I talked to Mia. How are you feeling?”
“I’m OK now…I think. I had a strange day. I feel like…I lost a couple of hours…I can’t remember what happened…”
“I’ll be home soon, Art. Just try to relax.”
“Yeah, OK. Thanks Dawn. I don’t know what’s going on… but… I love you.”
Time passes. Obsessively, I try to reassemble the missing pieces of the day. It is as if the act of remembering causes a tunneling effect – a spinning sensation. Holding a few moments in memory seems to cause the entire edifice of the here and now to slip away.
I look at the clock to ground myself. I catch a glimmer, a glimpse of a phone call. I just made a phone call. I heard a female voice. Dawn’s voice? Or was it Mia? I try to recall a few bits of the conversation. Why the call? What were we talking about?
I look back at the clock and ten minutes have passed. But how can that be? Ten minutes for a few thoughts?
Panic… I am losing my memory of immediate things. I am lost in this moment. And I don’t know what is happening to me…
Image: “Years Pass,” drawing, painting, and digital photo collage by Tullio DeSantis, 2009.