Monday, December 5, 2011

Wasting Time

She wonders where the time went, this odd human construct designed around the rising and setting of a tiny star. "Jesus, can't remember what I did last week." she talks to her dog because those she loves are no longer living in her space. "Who came up with 365 days, and leap years, and peak hour and 24/7" She doesn't understand what time has to do with it. "Time, flexing like a whore, falls wanking to the floor..." David  Bowie had it right. For her however, time is running out.

She's lost all concept of time. Seventeen years old, a forgotten curfew and an open car door. Rather than wake her father up and face the inquisition, she sneaks into the Valiant and curls up on the back seat. To young to drink, but drunk. Too intelligent to smoke, but stoned. Embracing the cold leather and pulling a thin picnic blanket over her to retain warmth. He won't punish her but the lecture will be too much, and the night has been so much fun. So she sleeps, oblivious to the hour until the sun rises. The car becomes an oven, and she's slow-roasting before she leaves and raps on her sister's bedroom window to rouse a sleepy 9 year old from slumber. The reluctant sibling threatened to the point of unlocking the back door. Finally she sinks beneath the duvet. Just in the nick of time.

He was lovely. Attentive. Thinks her  exotic in her fancy dress harem girl's costume and funny accent. "When are we going to make love," he asks ad nauseum. She wanted to, but isn't on the pill, has a boy at home. Doesn't trust the horny Englishman.  Their timing is never right. They party, they pash they pet, but never actually 'do it' until the final rendezvous. Well-planned until, all goes pear shaped with the hurl of a pan and a relative's blackened eye  To this day she regrets having not fucked him the first time he asked.

"It's time we...." she knew what was coming and she wants to. He's, beautiful, brown eyed and long haired, surf tanned with a VW combi and a double bed.

"Yeh, " she agrees during a camping trip in the far west of NSW,

"Do you know what you're doing?" She says it meaning - "Do you know that this simple act is one of making love and of the utmost importance me?" He takes it as a literal caution and assures her he's wearing a condom. Not so romantic at all.

He leaves her shortly afterwards. Time has a place in that as well - two-timed and oblivious until his calls stop, his visits slow. The bastard doesn't have the courage to break it off while she watches the clock waiting for him to come. Oh he came... and went. She feels dirty knowing she's put her mouth around that which another woman also caresses. 

The clock ticks above the mantle. His parents in bed. Her in a red and white uniform, reeking of fried chicken from the casual job that feeds her urge to travel.  A thick, constant, rhythmic tick and a chime every 15 minutes as they sip Tia Maria through a thin layer of cream at 2am. His hands slide along her thighs, his lips tight against hers, the moisture in her body unbearable, the love in her heart fit to burst, the lust in her loins eager for his entry.

"Play Baker Street," she says. And he diligently obeys.

Not because they have a love of Jerry Rafferty but because it is the longest 'A' side LP available and allows them 35 minutes of lovemaking on the couch. The clock ticks and marks time.  The same clock that stops on the day he dies after nine years of marriage, happiness, children....snuffed out too soon. The silent clock still clinging to his parent's wall. No battery will revive it. A constant reminder that her great love is no longer.

Time has little bearing after that. School, children, work...punctuated by moments of fun, hilarity, affection, friends and then the quiet desperation with time passing too quickly, loneliness hovering too slowly.  Time covers like a damp blanket. Suffocating inspirational flames, as the hands on clocks spin wildly, the digital numbers flick and click and before she knows an empty house is echoing like a tin locker.

Then he comes along. Comfortable as an easy chair and persuades her.  She looks at the clock. It's 3pm, broad daylight and the risk of someone coming home, but it happens. Clumsy, quick, dispassionate. She's out of practice. It's been a long time between drinks for him. Still, she is fucked and he is beautiful. She's not for him, and he not for her. Just a fling because he's there. She regrets it even though she loves it. A moment of madness, more moments of madness before it's all swept beneath the bed.  She deludes herself into believing she's in love. He becomes distant because it was just a fuck.

"Meet me at 7, Gleebooks in Glebe Point Road..." She doesn't know him. She's met him online but he looks nice enough. Gives her his Facebook account, his mobile number. Tells her she's 'terribly pretty' and she falls for it. High hopes that it might work out this time. She stands outside in the pouring rain for half-an-hour before she musters the courage to call.

"Hey, It's Elly. You stood me up already?"

"Oh God no," he sounds like he's forgotten completely, "I came down earlier and the shop was shut, I thought you were a no show."

"I messaged to say I'd be a little late, the traffic was awful,"

"Five minutes.....I'll be right there."

"Hi... you look lovely, want a drink?"

So.. all is good until he runs out of time.  "Sorry, I have to go. Opening a shop next week but I'd like to keep in touch."

They walk down the street, he puts his arm around her, "Am I what you expected?"

She nods agreement.

No invitation is forthcoming, just a kiss on the cheek and, "It was great to meet you. Will you be alright walking to your car."

"See you on Facebook...." are her parting words. Her smile is sad and unrecognised as she pops her broken umbrella and walks another 100 metres to her car, "Well that's two more hours I'll never get back!" She holds back tears.

She arrives home, empty, jaded. The house quiet and dark, then reads the messages on her iPhone:

"Hey Mum, how was the date, did you have a good time?" Her son  wants to see her happy before her time runs out.

"You alright? Coming home?" Her friend's waited up on another continent to console her.

"I liked you, let's do it again"  The new man messages.

Perhaps it wasn't all a waste of time.

Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Under the Cover of Time"


  1. love in the digital age...and glad i am off the FB grid....smiles.

  2. Sometimes fiction feels more real than life. Time (no muse intended) to reverse the sequence.

    You write the emptiness of it all very well. I feel it. Someone will relate, I suspect...

  3. Were you in my dreams? Did I dreamtalk to you? LOL! The emptiness hurts until it fills. Nice piece!

  4. a lot of time flying by here. and bouncing. and flying. and gasping.

    can i get a cigarette please

  5. This is sad to me. Am I the only one who reads it that way? Ugh. Too many empty hook-ups going on. And even on the last line, I have no idea if she is sharp enough to know if he is honestly interested when/if the time comes. Very sad. And reminds me of women I know. Well done!

  6. I like the melancholy of it, also the fact that it ends with a glimmer of hope - we need more of it.

  7. Ah...the searching, the emptiness, the wasting time. So easy to relate to this tale.

  8. I'm glad there's a touch of light at the end of this for her and him both.

  9. Love and hope facilitated in cyberspace. Melanchly in the way only lonliness can be. I am glad it ended with hope

  10. The death of the husband breaks my heart. You write very well.

  11. I feel her pain. Life lived fast, then seemingly dying slow. You leave the reader with hope though. Nice

  12. Erm herm...

    It's good, but pacing in the latter third of the piece accelerates to break-neck speed until it gets back down to where it needs to be. You need a better transition from the dead lover to the second one, and either ditch the second one or develop him. You leave too much to implication, but there's little setup for the reader to work with.

    And watch your damned typos.