• Home

Young Writers Society

"What time is it?" (a train-of-thought existential crisis)

by Rook

Inspired by Skins's status update: "Someone could ask me the time, and I'd still manage to find a way to respond in no less than 1,000 words."

Actually written in ~30 minutes.

~1,200 words


You ask about the time? Well, I could tell you the simple answer that it is currently 3:01, but would that be honest? Perhaps you are asking about a general time and would prefer me to say that it is 3:00 instead, or mayhaps my clock is slow and it is really 3:04. Whatever the case, I would have to answer you with not a little trepidation. Maybe you are asking about the time in some other region that I didn't hear you mention because frankly, I haven't been paying attention. Maybe you are asking me about the time we need to be somewhere in particular, or maybe I missed your question and instead asking me what the numbers on the clock say, you are asking me if I had a good time at the party last night, or how I've been spending my time now that we are no longer together. Maybe you're desperately trying to restore communications between us because you miss "us" and you want to get back together even though I've said "no" so many times. Perhaps you are asking me about the metaphysical "time" of relationship, whether it is time we made amends or severed all connections and moved to opposite sides of the world. In that case, I would have to tell you the answer of "I'm not sure," but then you might have just been asking for what the numbers on the clock say and you will point to my watch, laugh and snort and then go back to your friends and tell them all about how stupid your ex is and glad you are that we're no longer together even though I know you secretly yearn for me, though that's none of my business. Giving you the time would acknowledge that I'm not ignoring you, and, depending on how I say it, it would also reveal my attitude towards you, which I'm not even 100% sure I know for myself. Would I say it as though I were a stranger, all dispassionate, cool, and distant? Would I say it like an old friend, warm and inviting? Would I seethe anger from between my teeth HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME AFTER ALL THIS TIME YOU LITTLE WRETCH who do you think you are?! Would I deliver the numbers with a punch in the face? Or would I whisper it, murmur it quiet, hope nobody sees me talking to you, hope I don't even see it myself? I am afraid to find out, and so still I hold my tongue.

And how does one measure this abstract concept we call "time?" Who standardized time anyway? What is a second based on? Who divided up a day into 24 bits of 60 of 60? Time is something that only humans measure anyway. As Mitch Albom said in his novel The Time Keeper, "Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can't. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out." This sums up another part of my trepidation of giving you the time. It is yet another sign that we live and die by the clock whereas we don't have to do anything of the sort.

I think I mentioned a watch a little ways back. That was a lie. I do not wear watches. Most likely I would not know the time, so why are you asking? I only know because of a clock that, while not the most obvious thing it the world, is hanging in clear sight on a wall. So why are you asking me, I repeat. Did you just not notice it? Then why not ask someone, anyone else the time? You cannot actually believe I would be friendly after all we've gone through together? I am almost as afraid of you as I am of watches and the concept that I might be squandering every heartbeat because time spent will never come back to you. I am almost as afraid of you as I am of knowing that none of my heartbeats will amount to anything, that I am just dust in the wind, that not even the universe has significance because significance, like time, is just a human construct, and all we are are products of a galactic sneeze and our happiness is not even a dim spark in the void that is Nothingness. I was so afraid of you that I felt the need to make up an idea that if I had a watch and told you that I didn't know the time, that you would laugh at me and call me stupid but in reality you'd never do that because I don't have a watch and that's just something I was pretending while I try to answer. And remember when I said "I think I mentioned a watch a little ways back"? That was a lie too, because I was sure that I mentioned a watch, and exactly what context I used it in and the twisted hypothetical situation it existed in that only became something even slightly solid because I don't wear a watch and never have and why are you asking me about the time anyway? The clock is right on the wall!

And now, because of this idiotic question you have so thoughtlessly proposed to me without regard of the convoluted and circuitous train of thought it would send me on, I have spent 25 minutes composing your answer, so I'm still not sure if you want the time you asked me for or the time it is now.

But I lied again. Because you're gone by now. I just sort of stared at you blankly for only a few seconds before you walked away and I've been composing this letter in my mind this whole time (whatever time is anyway, if it even exists or matters which I'm pretty sure it doesn't but who am I, dust, to have an opinion?) while you have walked away from me yet again and I don't know how I'm feeling or even if I should be feeling anything because I told myself I was done, and dust shouldn't have feelings because feelings don't matter in the grand scheme of things-- nothing does. So I'm just rubbing the place on my wrist where a watch should have been if I had been brought up to care about time instead of words and ideas and wondering why I'm in this room in the first place and if I should be getting on one of the trains or leaving the train station and then I'm finding myself wondering which train you got on and where is it heading? And if I follow you, will you even bother to give me the time?

Is this a review?



User avatar
216 Reviews

Points: 93
Reviews: 216

Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:01 pm
DivergentDemigod wrote a review...

Hey fortis,
WOW. I mean really wow... I loved this. God you are great! Starting from a general topic and then personalizing it that to in 30 min. Great work fortris. I really loveeeed the way you described time. The way you summoned everything about time is really fascinating. I mean we use the word time so many times in a day but never realise the value of it.
I loved the way you used the word "dust" to refer to humans. We really are just like dust notes in this world it never really matter what we think or do. And I really never paid attention to the different ways that a 4 letter word could mean so many things.
I don't know why but reading this is making me want to quote The fault in our stars ( What a slit time is she screws everybody *sorry for the language*)
Anyway, I'm next time someone asks me the time I really am gonna think before answering!
Reading your work was a delight. Thanks for sharing it!

Great job!

User avatar
93 Reviews

Points: 3819
Reviews: 93

Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:28 pm
Lefty says...

I loved this. Really thought provoking on some subjects I have tried and failed to put into words. Thank you. This was really great.



User avatar
27 Reviews

Points: 61
Reviews: 27

Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:14 am
spectator wrote a review...

I'd like to start by saying I really liked reading this. For me, being a person who loves forgetting what day it is, this was a super enjoyable read. Your character's voice was strong and carried well throughout your entire work. I especially appreciated how you posed a lot of questions, and how your character contradicted themself multiple times. Continuing one this note, your comparison of two equally complicated and trivial things was super awesome! I find train-of-thought writing difficult to do well, but you did a great job! The only thing I would say is that I found myself getting a bit bored around the 2nd and 3rd paragraph from the end. Maybe go back and review those to see what you can do to hold your reader's attention. Otherwise, amazing writing!

- Summer

User avatar
1087 Reviews

Points: 44360
Reviews: 1087

Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:53 pm
Sins says...

i love you

"And the rest is rust and stardust."
— Vladimir Nabokov