Time is an illusion to most, but not to Vrijeme, and not in the usual sense. Vrijeme can touch the fabric of space-time between her fingers, a physical thing that can stretch and mold. She can pinch a piece of the cosmos and tug at it until it forms a long thin yarn and then she can weave it with other pieces until it forms a river, a building, a planet, a dog. Those are one of her favorites, dogs. Her sister Ruimte can then animate the fabric, rousing it to move and sway, breathe, and live.
But after an eternity of this, Ruimte became progressively more spiteful. The essence with which she imbued Vrijeme’s designs ultimately turned nasty and rotten. Her creations would fragment and decay or drown themselves or explode into a million pieces. Vrijeme begged her sister to curb her maliciousness, but she refused outright. Ruimte argued that there was no reason to do so, no reason for anything at all, in fact. In time, Vrijeme couldn’t help but see the truth of that. Eventually she stopped creating anything at all and watched the universe around her deteriorate. She avoided her sister and she wrapped herself in despair and she told herself it didn’t matter.
Ça sert à quoi tout ça? What was the point of it all? That is the eternal question.
At present, she floats through the leftover stars listlessly, one of the few things left after Ruimte’s many rages. She drifts around aimlessly as she is wont to do, and occasionally touches some decrepit planetary body and sighs fretfully. She cradles Venus in her palms, melancholic, and remembers a time when she didn’t feel so full of darkness, like some disturbed sentient oubliette.
When she comes to Earth – what is left of it – tears spring from her amethyst eyes and drip down her face. Huge crystalline droplets of liquid methane disappear into the abyss as they fall past her pointed chin.
“Look at what I’ve let you become,” she says, caressing a crumbling mountain. “My darling,” she weeps.
After a lengthy sulk, one in a string of many, Vrijeme eyes her favorite planet through puffy eyes. Drifting suspended below (above?) it, she absentmindedly laces together a rocky moon and positions it just so. Certain physical aspects of the universe such as gravity and the laws of thermodynamics are always ready to proceed “business as usual”. These nuanced and interconnected forces are eternal and inherent to the continuum without any input from either herself or her sister. And so, with a flick of her finger, the newly minted moon begins its slow rotation around the world. She watches as the Earthly winds slow and the tides return to what they once were. She adjusts the blue planet’s axis and rests her chin on her forearms and watches it spin round and round for ever and a day.
She realizes it feels good – cathartic – to create again, even if it is something so simple as a planet and a moon. She does not need her sister for that.
She conjures a fist full of asteroids and, with great precision and particular care, launches them one after another at her new moon which she decides to call August for no reason at all. The little pock marks please her: it looks almost like the previous version, and she remembers every one of her creations. August is a very nice moon, she decides, and a small smile graces her angular face, softening it.
Just as quickly as it came, the smile slips from her face as Ruimte appears out of the celestial ether.
“And just what are you up to?” Ruimte asks, her mercurial grey eyes narrowed.
“I was just –“
“’Twas rhetorical. I can see what you’re doing, and I thought you were done with all that nonsense.” She circles her sister and lays down beside her and watches the planet go round and round.
“I thought I was too,” Vrijeme admits. “It has been a long time, sister.”
Ruimte grunts noncommittally. After many rotations and with no other words from her sister, Ruimte decides she feels dizzy and floats off, leaving her sister to her silly musings. Vrijeme is an undying creature, but sometimes she acts like she has just emerged from the primordial soup. Ruimte likes to think she is older and by default wiser, but in truth she isn’t sure. She feels older, at any rate. She feels tired. Existence is tiring.
“That thing is very ugly,” Ruimte says sometime later, having found herself – quite by accident – passing by her sister again (it was a very small universe). She thrusts out a bony finger at the tiny little moon and sends it flying into space.
“That’s August.” She returns the moon back to its proper orbit.
“You’ve given it a name?”
“And why shouldn’t I?” Vrijeme shoots back, feeling more spirited than usual.
“Because it’s junk, that’s why.”
“I think it’s quite precious, look at this crater here,” she muses fondly. “The old one didn’t have one shaped quite like that.”
Ruimte scoffs theatrically and blows a strand of phosphorescent hair from her field of vision. “You’ve always took to the silliest things.”
Vrijeme only sighs and focuses her attention back on crafting a large ship. Despite herself, Ruimte watches her sister make each tiny detail down to the warps and knots in the wood. She watches her set it in the middle of one of Earths many oceans (“Far too many!”) and observes as the sail unfurls itself and drifts away with the Eastern winds.
“You put an awful amount of effort into that,” Ruimte points out, as though she can’t help herself.
“A stitch in time saves nine.”
“I hate Earthly proverbs.”
“Well, it’s quite difficult to get these things to float properly when one’s immutable sister won’t lift a bony finger to help. Ships may not breathe, but a little animation goes a long way!” As though the universe itself is listening, they watch as the ship lists to its starboard side and begins turning in sad clockwise circles. Vrijeme frowns.
Feeling suddenly churlish and defensive, Ruimte turns briskly around and leaves with a harrumph. She is perversely pleased when she feels her sister’s violet eyes on her back.
Vrijeme’s frown deepens as she turns back and sees the ship sink beneath the azure waves and disappear.
Vrijeme is just finishing scooping out a winding arroyo to compliment a large desert and is considering whether to fill it with water when it happens again.
“I can hear you skulking.”
Ruimte doesn’t dignify that with a response, but simply materializes near Venus and watches skeptically from afar. It has been eons since she has watched her sister create, and she admits (privately) that it is, to some degree, entertaining.
“What the devil happened to your hair,” Ruimte says after an interminable length of time.
“I thought such things were beneath your notice, sister. If you must know, I used the aurora borealis as inspiration.” Her green and pink hair sways in some spurious heavenly breeze. “One of my favorite accidental creations.”
“Technically you didn’t create it, it just appeared,” Ruimte corrects.
“Yes, but I created the Earth and its sun so I should get credit.”
“You can’t claim credit for chemistry.”
Vrijeme pinches the bridge of her aquiline nose and turns to angrily face her sister.
“Why are you here, Ruimte? You’re boorish and uncouth and sometimes I really can’t stand you.”
In a bolt from the blue, Ruimte realizes she had been enjoying the banter and startles when something like a spark of hurt blooms in her chest. She sits in silence, shocked at her own internal reflection.
“I’m unsure,” Ruimte confesses.
Despite a millennia full of bitterness that she holds for Ruimte’s wickedness, Vrijeme’s face falls when she sees the look of sadness on her unruly sibling’s face. Tentatively, she wraps a long arm around shoulder and is surprised when Ruimte curls closer.
They sit like this for a long while and they breathe a sigh of relief at the acute lack of loneliness that has gripped them both for so long.
“You know, I wouldn’t judge you if you wanted to try again,” Vrijeme says eventually.
The blue-haired being pulls out of her sister’s embrace as her natural impulse to run away flares intensely. “Why would I care if –“
A compulsion to reach out her divine hand and crush her sister’s favorite toy blazes in her eyes, a fear response engrained to destroy all chances of being hurt. But in that moment her patient sister sets a gentle hand on her forearm and the feeling extinguishes as quickly as it came leaving her everlasting heart thudding in her chest.
Can she try again? Can she create life instead of death? Build rather than destroy?
It will be hard.
“I don’t know if I can.”
“Fortune favors the bold,” Vrijeme said, a sparkle in her eye. “Take a risk, sister. I am with you.”
“I thought I told you I hated Earthly proverbs,” Ruimte laughs. Really, truly, laughs. Vrijeme joins in, supremely delighted.
“What if I tell you that I’d let you make the humans without proverbs this time?”
“Can we do that? They always seem to do whatever they want, after a time.”
“They are funny like that. All we can do is try.” She holds out her hand. “Together.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Ruimte grasps her sister’s hand.