tick tock

by tobias crabtree

i woke up this morning in the camper and saw Time sitting at the end of the bed.

“Don’t you ever sleep?”

“No. I don’t sleep, never have. I’ve been waiting up for you all night.”

I glanced at my phone, 6:07 a.m. The days have been getting shorter. I noticed that Time was wearing a sweater. He was just sitting there, smoking a cigarette with a little smile on his face.

“Leave me alone,” I said.

“I didn’t say a word,” Time replied.

I climbed from my bed and stepped under the skyfull of fading stars. Ah, my favorite moon, the waning moon at dawn. teacup moon. I stopped and looked up for a bit, Time shouldered past me and cleared his throat.

“What? Why are you acting like that?”

Time was surly, impatient. “You have a lot to do, I’m not so sure you should be looking at the moon. I’ve noticed you forget to check in with me when you stare at the moon too much.”

“Maybe I’ll just stare at the moon all day,” my reply intentional and direct.

“That’s silly talk, come on, you know what they say, There’s no better Time than the present.” Time walked in front of me, anxious for coffee.

I didn’t respond, it’s incredibly arrogant to give quotes that include yourself. Time irritates me and he knows it. He tags along, always smoking and quoting himself, thinking he’s so important. He waits for me all night and then gets involved with nearly everything I do. He puts his numbers on my phone and on clocks and watches. He’s an impatient, pushy acquaintance. I tell him i don’t want him around me, influencing my decisions so much. He just laughs and says, “come on, we’re going to be late.”

Over coffee, he asks me when I’m meeting my first appointment today. “Don’t lose track of…” I break in and tell him to shut up, “You are so damn arrogant, man, do you have to use your name in every sentence?”

“Hey man,” Time says, “you’re the one who made me so important, you and your kind. Before you humans came along, I barely existed. I lived like a wild thing, only recognized by the animals as light and dark. I almost wasn’t a thing at all. You humans began to recognize me, you named me. You began turning over hourglasses and giving me importance. You worshiped my numbers and built clocks on towers and honored me with gold watches. You took me to sea and used me to navigate the oceans. I helped you dominate the world. So stop acting like you don’t need me. I am in your life till the end…right down to your final hour. And when you die, if there are humans around to see it, they will write down the Time, even the minute, when you are declared dead. I help define you, start to finish. Even you, Tobias, the one who thinks you don’t need me, check your clock several times a day. Even you depend on me.”

I looked Time in the eyes. And then i stared up at the moon, fading in the morning light.

As I walked away, he followed. Right now he sits, lazy eyed, looking at me and waiting, drumming his fingers on the table. He lights another cigarette, knowing full well his importance.