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START/STOP — a fiction
Time should be broken
Something is wrong with time. It should be broken. It is hung inverted from the from the nurse’s pocket, six at the top, twelve beneath. You would think the watch would stop — that such reversal would cause a rift in the fabric of space-time — but it keeps ticking, measuring the seconds since it happened; somehow, unthinkably, impossibly, still clockwise.
She feels their voices slip over her like slugs; it is the watch on which she is focussed. She wills it backwards, but it advances relentlessly. She grabs their words from her skin, squeezes them until they ooze between her fingers, pushes them together to form a response to their questions.
Is there a history of depression in his family?
There is not a history of depression in his family.
Is there someone she can call?
There is someone she can call.
They leave her alone with the child. How can she look at it in any other way now? How can she see its newborn eyes without seeing him? How can hold such small fingers without considering what they have wrought?
But she knows it is not the child’s fault. Such helplessness could not cause such harm. It is impossible. Impossible.
But who could have guessed? The attention was on her and the baby and she basked in it despite the pain and the grotesqueries of her own body. Who could have known?
Life is such frailty.