All The Time in the World

Submitted into Contest #253 in response to: Write about a character who has the ability to pause the passage of time.... view prompt

1 comment

Fiction Fantasy

I glanced at my watch, hoping for good news. But it was already 2:15 p.m., and I would need to leave in the next five minutes if I was going to catch my flight.

"I wish we could stop time," I said, holding Taryn's hand, smoothing her hair, smiling into blue eyes that were the color of arctic sea ice.

"What should we do? I mean, if you could stop time?" Those eyes were smiling back but her mouth was serious, as if time manipulation were possible and she wanted to know.

"Everything," I said. "Nothing. Whatever we wanted." I kissed her, just a peck on her closed lips, quick and innocent but soft, and tingling with possibility.

This time her whole face smiled. "Seriously," she prodded, sitting back and resting on her left arm and running the fingers of her right hand through my unkempt brown hair, scratching my scalp a little with her long, pink nails. "What would you do with all that time?" Her gaze excited me and was at the same time unsettling.

We were in the library of her father's estate, my favorite room in the mansion. Not that I'm particularly known for my literacy, but I do love books and I adore beautiful rooms. This room was gorgeous.

It was perfectly octagonal with Persian rugs and plush solid-color chairs, a fantastic floral loveseat, plenty of lighting, plants and small potted trees galore, and wood-grained everything. There were three vertical levels of bookcases around the outside walls, each separated from the next by long, narrow, shuttered windows, with railed walkways around each upper level and hybrid ladder-stairs to climb or descend. The glass-domed ceiling was at least thirty feet above the floor. In the middle of that dome was a rotating five-faced clock. The four vertical clock dials were slanted outward so that they could be seen from the bookcases on all three levels. And the fifth face pointed directly at the floor so that anyone seated in the chairs or loveseat could look straight up and check the time.

It was currently 2:18 p.m. I checked my watch and it said 2:18 as well.

The family employed a full-time librarian to expand the holdings and look after the rare books in the collection, which were under lock and key. I had seen some pretty interesting characters requested access to them in my time with Taryn.

However, Ms. Trent, the librarian, had the afternoon off and Mr. Follicksen, Taryn's reclusive, enigmatic father, was away in his summer home in Sweden. So Taryn and I were alone, sitting on cushions on the floor of the third level, the late afternoon sun casting long shadows along the eastern shelves.

Her simple question created a problem for me because my comment was flippant and had no basis in actual thought. And she was calling me on it. It was clear that she wanted to know if I had thought about the implications of my statement. Did I have a plan to take advantage of something as significant as stopping time?

"Well," I said, serious, using all the creativity I could muster in the moment, "I would not want to stop time unless I could restart it again."

"Ooohhh," she said, pleased, sitting up and crossing her legs, leaning forward, her nose inches from my own. "I like that!" She backed away, scanning my face, her lips puckered, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. "Why?!"

"Because as tempting as it might be to say I want to live forever," I said, "I want to continue to grow, and grow old, and I'd like to do that with you." I kissed her again. This time slowly and deeply. We lingered.

As I pulled back, her eyes remained closed and she was smiling as if she was listening to the most beautiful music she'd ever heard.

"That," she said, opening her eyes and using both hands to pull her long blond hair into a high ponytail, "was a very good answer, Jeremiah Jeffrey Jendry." I loved it when she used my full name. It felt paradoxically intimate. "But you have not answered my question." She had used a hair scrunchie from her wrist to secure the ponytail in place and the sight of her jawline and neckline was more than a little distracting.

“If I could make time stand still”, I said, emphasizing each word, grabbing both her hands in mine, and studying her eyes, her smile, her elfen ears, her long neck, her small, full mouth, her straight teeth, “I would carry you to your bedroom and when we’d both had our fill of love and sleep and all the food we can scrounge from the house, and there was nothing left to talk about and I was sure you knew exactly how much you mean to me, I would repack my suitcase and kiss you goodbye for now, and then restart time again.”

She was smiling. And waiting. Like she wanted me to go on.

But I was worried. The family driver, Ronald, was always on top of things. I knew my luggage was ready to be loaded into the limo hours ago, but he hadn’t come to fetch me. Surely it was time to leave because San Francisco traffic could be notoriously unpredictable and I needed to be at the airport in line to check bags at 3:00pm, which meant I needed to leave…I checked my watch.

It was still 2:18 p.m.

“Shit,” I said, panicking. “My watch died. What time is it?” I looked at the large clock in the domed ceiling. It also still showed 2:18 p.m. “What the–”

Taryn placed her hand on mine. “It’s OK, Jeremy. You still have lots of time.” Her tone was soothing, but I didn’t feel soothed.

“Babe,” I said, “I wish that were true, but I need to get going. Where is Ronald?” I stood up, but she held onto my hand, pulling me gently back to the cushions. 

“You said you wanted to carry me to my bedroom,” she replied, and there was an unmistakable invitation in her tone and gaze.

“I have a meeting early tomorrow,” I said, shaking my head in apology. “This is the last flight east out of SFO. I–”

“I would never ask you to miss that meeting,” she said, purring. “You’ll make it.”

I checked my watch again, feeling obsessive, but getting more worried by the second. It was still 2:18 p.m. The ceiling clock agreed.

Then the pieces began to fall into place. Crazy pieces. Like, Hollywood movie or high fantasy fiction kinds of pieces. 

She rose from her cushions, looked up into my confused face, brushed the hair from my eyes with her soft, scented right hand, and said, “Go ahead. Say it.”

“Time…has…” I couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Stopped.” She finished it for me.

“How can that be, Taryn?” I felt like I couldn’t close my mouth, like I might remain confused for the rest of my life.

“There are some things about my family - about me - that you still don’t know. After today, you will know.”

I removed my hands from hers and took two steps backward. “What things?” I sounded almost hysterical because that’s how I felt.

She was not offended and not surprised by my reaction. She smiled in understanding. “Let’s get a glass of wine on the ground level and talk.” She saw me glance at my watch. “Sweetheart, I promise, you have all the time in the world.”

June 05, 2024 20:39

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1 comment

Krislyn Lyon
13:43 Jun 11, 2024

Baaaaahahahahaha I love it! Clueless guy and girl like hmmmmmm soooo if you could stop time...how would you use it, exactly? Short, punchy, and perfect. Nice work.

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