Freezing Time

Evdokimov Maxim/

This post was originally published through Patreon on August 29, 2018.

Time is a vortex. It sucks you in the moment you’re born, and once it has hold of you, it never lets go. No matter how hard you struggle, no matter how hard you try to pull free, its grip remains, until finally it shoves you over the threshold of life into death.

A curse, or so Rita once believed. Now she wishes she’d let nature take its course. Oh, how she pines for death’s embrace. But death cannot be hers, now or ever again.

It was foolish for her to believe she could tamper with something as fundamental as time. But she was a powerful witch from a long line of witches, and she thought herself singularly capable of harnessing and channeling nature’s deepest mystery despite her mother’s repeated warnings.

“You’re gifted,” the woman said once when Rita was just a child. “Perhaps too gifted for your own good.”

Then, when Rita was seven, her mother died. Cancer consumed her from the inside out, leaving Rita shell-shocked and beholden to a desperate fear of death and the irreversibility of time. It haunted her every waking hour, until at last she resolved to do the forbidden, the unthinkable, the impossible.

Rita would freeze time.

Time, according to her tutors and textbooks, was immutable, no more moveable than a mountain or an ocean. Indeed, despite her many attempts to skirt its primordial limitations, she was never able to achieve her goal.

Then she had an idea. Perhaps time couldn’t be manipulated, but what about herself? What if she could untether herself from its ever-moving tide? Like a ship that’s dropped anchor, it would ebb and flow around her, while she herself remained stationary.

It was a revolutionary concept, and she was surprised no one had thought of it before. She took to locking herself in her room, to pondering her trailblazing theory in secret. Always she thought of her mother, of her terrible agony right to the bitter end. She pondered the physics, the math, the magic, until finally, piece by piece, she’d constructed a working model, an elaborate balance of celestial energies that she believed would allow her to accomplish the impossible.

The night before her transformation—the night before she destroyed herself more thoroughly than time and death ever could have—she lay awake in her moonlit room, dreaming of the cosmos and the mysteries she believed she was about to master. She would be a god, she thought, unfettered by the constraints of the universe. She would be immortal, free to roam the stars and all that lay between.

As it happened, she was right about the immortality. But as she soon discovered, it would have been far better had she not achieved it.

She’s alone now, suspended on the razor’s edge of a moment that will never come to pass. With no time to carry her forward, she is frozen like stone, her soul forever on the verge of a silent scream.

How wonderful it would have been to die like her mother. But for now and ever after, death is a luxury that will remain forever out of reach.

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