Sunday July 9th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the lost years.

Another relatively quiet day at work. Hot again, but not as bad as yesterday.

Stuck trying to catch up on posts again...


Sun soaked days spent building sand castles at the water's edge. Ice cream in the shade. Running through sprinklers until baths before bed.

Collecting rainbow leaves, chasing them through the woods as fingers ache from the coming cold. Blanketed evenings in the company of books. Sleepovers with late night buttered popcorn and cheesy movies.

Hot chocolate breath fogging the air. Snowmen armies in the yard. Snowball fights creating both laughter and tears. Endless soup dinners with family and friends. Playing cards by candle light.

And then... nothing. No memories. Just a black gap, a yawning chasm with an unknowable bottom.

And then... working two jobs. Crippling debt. Collection agents. A new city every few months. Sleepless nights. Paranoia a steadfast companion, never leaving my side.

But... those missing years. What happened? Why can't I remember? Someone must know, surely. Someone must be able to shed light on that maddening darkness.

All I have to do is find them.


Greg said...

I really like the memories at the start of this; it feels like a condensed childhood, like it should be one of those film montages where we find out a character's backstory in three minutes to cover thirty years. Excellent writing! Then the gap in the middle and the jump to a very different life is a well-executed change and creates a sense of something missing and a longing to understand. I really enjoyed reading it.

The lost years
Jeff turned the watch over again and again in his hands. He could remember the balding, pudgy man walking into the shop as easily as though it had happened five minutes earlier, and... it might have done. He'd started to lose his grip on time when it all became non-sequential and it was getting harder and harder to get it back again. He needed something to orient himself by, and there just wasn't anything. Nothing was permanent. Or nothing was permanent that couldn't be made unpermanent.
"I've got a bomb," said the voice of a small girl and he looked up for what had to the eightieth time now and saw her on the CCTV screen, standing in the banking hall. The people around her, all adults were smiling and condescending, none of them believing or understanding. He felt a shiver run down his spine: the pudgy man, Dave, had warned him not to fall in love with her, and yet he had. Six times so far, and always with the same ending. A knife-blade flashing in the overhead lights, fingers twisting the winding crown of the watch, rewinding to a crossroads and trying to find a different road to take. Only they all seemed to lead to the same outcome.
How many years had he lost to this now? Did it matter? Was he even aging as he drifted around the timeline like a shuttlecock batted back and forth between two elite players just having fun?
He turned the CCTV screens off; he didn't want to see the time-bomb work its effects again. The security guard he'd knocked out groaned softly: he had twelve minutes before he came round enough to be a problem again. And Jeff'd tried killing him before -- turns out he's not a killer.
Why always back to this point? He'd tried turning the watch again, but it never went further back than this point. He'd talked to physicists the world over trying to understand, but their explanations were guesswork and wrong in so many places....
The watch sparkled and he knew that she'd detonated the bomb. In twenty minutes she'd be safely away and she'd drop the time-shield and return to her own age.
He'd thought all this before and before and before but this time, as though the water had finally eroded a new channel to flow down, something clicked and he stared at the watch as new thoughts filled his mind.
He couldn't go further back because of the time-shield. Every time he reached the point where she turned the shield on the watch was blocked. It was... it was a permanent break in the timeline. It... put them in a branch off the main line. He couldn't get out of it like this because there was no way to reach before the junction in the past. The only solution would be to merge the timelines in the future again.
And then all the years of this line would be lost as well.

Marc said...

Greg - thank you :D

Ooh, really like what you've done here. Great details weaving the whole thing together, handled with a cleverness I can only envy. Very impressed.