I never cared much for the ticking of clocks. That predictable percussion, decided ages ago to measure all the ages to come after, never sat right within me. Even the silence of digital devices still held within it the ghost of ticks and tocks plodding along at the same mundane pace.
Finally I took a sledgehammer to the lot of them, making sure that my strikes were wonderfully chaotic and irregular. When anyone spoke to me of meeting times, deadlines, or life expectancy numbers, I gripped that smooth wooden handle with white knuckles until they backed away, a haphazard stumbling.
But it’s human nature to want to mark the time in some way. So I sat in my favorite garden chair, buried my feet in the unmowed grass, and waited for time to present itself to me. Then there they were, bumble bees bounced from one clover bloom to the next. They say that bumble bees should not be able to fly. Their bulky bodies should not be borne into flight by their little wings, the mathematical ratio is all wrong. But no one told the bumble bees that, and so there they went. Sometimes they lingered a long while, deliberate and focused. Other times they turned circles and circles, no rhyme or reason. Once or twice, they stopped to visit my toes. Their little footsteps added a lovely extra layer to the measurements of time that their movements provided me with.
After that, it wasn’t hard to find other such comrades to pass the time with. Twilight held the barn swallows flitting fast, turning in the same instant that the thought so much as occurred to them, never a fraction of a measurable moment in between the notion and the execution. The night held flashes from fireflies. Never knowing if the next flash was from the same or a different source was dizzying and delightful.
When I went to the shore, the dawn brought the swift side steps of beach crabs on the shifting sand. The sandpipers were always a hop or two in front of the foam. In contrast, the soft grey pelicans loped along in undulating lines, a graceful parade in slow motion. I tried to sync my breath with the flaps of their wings.
I couldn’t tarry there long, though. The ocean tides were too predictable and I worried they would rope me back into something fixed.
So I went back to the clover and the bees. As they unknowingly defy gravity, they help me to deny manmade time.
Sarah Tollok is a writer dwelling in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She refuses to settle for just one genre because she is having way too much fun. When not writing or reading, you can find her in her vegetable garden, watching the bees. You can find her works in Intangible Lit, Second Chance Lit, Orange Blush Zine, and upcoming in Sledgehammer Lit. Contact her at SarahTollok.com.