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I sat perfectly still, pen poised over a blank sheet, eyes half-focused on a dim stain which spread over the pine board wall on the far side of the room. The clock to my left ticked slowly on, and after a while I found myself twitching the pen to its monotonous rhythm. The rhythm sounded so pure and rigid. Like a perfectly orchestrated symphony.
I put the pen to the paper and drew it back again leaving but a small pinpoint of black ink upon the page.
There was indeed a certain grace to those light clock ticks.
As each second passed, a trillion different events transpired and completed in the room where I sat. Tick: a breeze from the window rustled the pages of the Bible which lay perched in front of the window. Tick: a million unique dust motes made a million unique twists and turns in the sun which filtered in the window. Tick: a few straggling notes of the neighbor’s music echoed in my ears. Tick: a fly flitted lazily across my blank paper sheet. Tick: my pen noted the second with a subtle twitch. Tick: the wind stilled, the pages settled, a passing cloud blanketed the sun and the dust motes vanished in a flash of darkness, the music died, the fly paused on the paper, and my pen froze in an instantaneous spasm… all in one second. And I marveled at the fullness of that short period of time.
Time: that ever drawing, ever present, ever rushing force which compels us along its way, never speeding or slowing in its ever forward momentum, dragging us on at a constant rate regardless of any and all of our moods, feelings, thoughts, or acts. It is ever present in our lives, yet we hardly feel its passing until at last we can look back over countless years and see how we have squandered it and are then too decrepit to make up for its loss.
I glanced down at the clock. It had moved forward seven minutes since I had sat down to write my short story. Seven minutes I had just wasted and still had a blank sheet of paper. I felt rage welling up inside as I realized that there was now no way to regain those seven minutes. They were gone for eternity. And still that clock, the instrument which measured and alerted us of time’s passing still droned on robbing me of more time which I still sat wasting. Tick, tick, tick, tick… I slammed my left fist down onto the clock and in my fury stopped cold the wheels and cogs which turned and ground and ate up time. And I sighed in relief. I had stopped it. I could now rest, for time was not passing me by as I sat there still.
I glanced down at my right hand then and watched as it still lightly twitched, marking the seconds as they passed by. Twitch, twitch, twitch, twitch…. Time still moved on regardless of my moods, feelings, thoughts, acts, and even my recognition of the reality of time itself. It still moved on at its constant rate… tick, tick, tick, tick… even despite the loss of the clock. Tick, tick, tick, tick…
My page lay blank, the wind started again, the pages turned, the sun came out, the dust motes swirled, the music drifted, the fly took off to flight once more, all in the passing of one second. And still my pen twitched to each passing second.
Hackettstown, New Jersey
San Francisco, California
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
This article has 5 comments.
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A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.
C. S. Lewis
so anyway, here are the notes. they're in cronological order, I didn't make citations (sorry lol) and they point out every specific thing that I caught.
“The rhythm sounded so pure and rigid. Like a perfectly orchestrated symphony.” Link these sentences with a semicolon or dash to keep the good rhythm in your story. GREAT opening, which demonstrates a mastery of the language.
“And I marveled at the fullness of that short period of time.” I’m loving the language in this paragraph, I just wonder if there’s a better word for “fullness” I can’t think of one—find a new one or change it, that’s up to you.
“Time: that ever drawing, ever present…” I think a semicolon belongs there but I’m not sure. If a colon does belong here, where you said “Tick:” Italicize Tick and then drop the colon. The italicized tick looks better anyway and more clearly indicates onomatopoeia.
“It is ever present in our lives, yet we hardly feel its passing until at last we can look back over countless years and see how we have squandered it and are then too decrepit to make up for its loss.” When did the reader become a part of your experience? I think the reader is an outsider looking in, and so I would replace ““It is ever present in our lives” “It is ever present in life” and change the rest of that sentence accordingly.
“I felt rage welling up inside as I realized that there was now no way to regain those seven minutes.” AAACK!!!! Change the passive voice: “Rage welled up inside” or better yet “frustration welled up…” Rage seems like too cliché a word to use for you and this piece which is so extraordinary.
“They were gone for eternity.” This works if you like it but for rhythm purposes, I would say “forever” instead of “for eternity”
“turned and ground and ate up time” find better verbs that better set the mood. Agonizing verbs, destructive verbs. Add alliteration there. This is a powerful moment in the piece—make it stand out the way it should!
“And I sighed in relief.” This works kinda but you could delete it to make the paragraph flow better I think.
“Time still moved on regardless of my moods, feelings, thoughts, acts, and even my recognition of the reality of time itself.” Great idea! But Simplify it. Find a word or two that summarizes all of those things into one.
“It still moved on at its constant rate…” find a better adj than constant. Something that characterizes it better. Also after that sentence, delete everything in that paragraph after the first “tick, tick, tick, tick…”
Basically I feel like there were key moments in the story that lacked the power that they needed and that you could have given them. The ending was fantastic--I love how you referred to the begining there too. I'll point out these key moments in my notes. I hope they help you with this story--overall you seem to have the mechanics of writing pretty down pact. How much time did you spend editing this?
I mean, seriously dude, if you wrote this in a few minutes without much editing, you should take AP English language and AP English Lit and some kind of AP History. you will Ace the heck out the exams because you’d be able to write a fantastic essay I imagine and then save money for college.
simon cowell feedback:
This was awesome. Not flawless, but effing amazing! Deff one of my favorites I've ever read on this website.
As a whole what you might want to work on for something like this is characterization and understanding symbolism and all that. I know this sounds like english class and really stupid, but hear me out:
In this story, I get the feeling you portrayed time as an antagonist of sorts. You described it in some places in such a way that Poe would describe "the bells" (I'm alluding to his poem) in a narrative like this one. If you're not familiar with that reference, you describe time like it is a sort of terrifying horrible thing. And you do it very well--and I don't mean you're overexaggerating either. Simply put; time is the antagonist in this narrative.
That said, you used descriptions that had nuetral connotations when describing time in some places where you should have used descriptions with different connotations. I pointed them all out in my notes, which will appear in the next post(s).