“Every time I jump like that, I feel like time slows down a little bit.”
– Son, today, after a hop over a puddle
On the back wall of my elementary school cafeteria, there was a big clock. White background, black hands, no numbers, just the short lines that indicate the five-minute (or second) intervals the hands have to make to travel around the face.
There was also something else I’ve never been able to forget in my school, and that was the rule that you had to finish your plate, because food was never to be wasted. That’s why I sometimes sat alone at a long table and stared at the clock, while trying to chew whatever food was given to me that day.
One time, when I was there alone, trying to make the food go down, I glanced at the clock, and waited for the seconds hand to move, as it did, second by second, not in one smooth motion – but it didn’t.
It’s funny how one’s senses can go into hyper speed in a fraction of a second, he thought. Just a second earlier he had been leaning back in his boat, watching his two buddies pull the fish out of the water, and now he was in the water, his body and brain working overtime trying to figure out what was going on.
The water was cold, they said. It was dark, and he could hardly see anything. The lake didn’t smell, but he heard sounds of struggle behind him. He spat out the water that had got into his mouth when the boat had capsized.
The first day in a classroom was always the worst, he thought. Since they all knew each other already, there was none of that nervousness of meeting a new teacher for the first time to keep the kids in line. So they got out of line.
“This is not rocket science, this is Sex Ed. I’m not trying to teach you rocket science or Einstein’s theory of relativity, I’m trying to teach you people how to use a goddamn condom,” he yelled.
There was snickering. As always. Every year, every goddamn year.
Another March day. The sun is shining, after some light snowfall. The snow in spring is so light it looks fake.
“It’s like the snow in the movies,” said Wife when she took off with Son and Daughter this morning.
I waved to them from the front door, until I saw Son’s red hat disappear behind the garage. I closed the door, packed my bag and went to the gym because while you can make a change any given day, sometimes you have to keep doing the same thing over and over again to really make a change.
It got quiet in the back yard. Suddenly. Almost too quiet, and a little too suddenly so I decided to have a look. As I got around the house, I saw Daughter standing very, very still right at the edge of our lawn, looking out to the other side of the fence our neighbors had set up a couple of months earlier.
She didn’t move one, but she looked happy. And I knew why.
I stopped, too. I didn’t want to spoil her moment.