art by Seth Alan Bareiss
Harmonies of Time
by Caroline M. Yoachim
You do not know me yet, my love, but I can hear you in my future. You are there from the beginning--at first just a few stray notes, but your presence quickly grows into a beautiful refrain. I wish you could hear time as I do, my love, but this song was never meant to be heard. The future should be chronobviated, gathered up in feathery pink fronds with delicate threads that waver in and out of alternate timelines. The past should be memographed, absorbed into a sturdy gray tail that stretches back to the beginning of the universe. We humans have neither fronds nor tails, but when the Eternals wanted to talk to us, they found a way to work around that.
The melody of my past is simple.
When I was ten years old, I heard my mother's voice for the first time. The doctors worried that I might be too old to adapt to the change. They told me that the sensation might be overwhelming. They explained that sound wouldn't be the same for me as for a child born with hearing. But none of that mattered. As a ten-year-old child, I saw the procedure as a way to be normal, just like all the other kids, and I jumped at the chance.
When the doctors turned my cochlear implant on for the first time, I was in a quiet room. My mother gave me a moment to adjust to the hum of the lights, and then she spoke to me. She told me that she loved me, signing as she said the words. When I heard her voice, I cried.
I never dreamed that in my lifetime I would gain another sense, but when the Eternals made first contact, they did not ask for politicians or for scientists. They asked for people like me. I had already learned a new sense, and I already had external sensors wired into my nervous system. With my permission, the Eternals altered my cochlear implant, and what they sense as time I hear as music. So much of what they wanted to say to us was contained in the harmonies of the future; they felt they couldn't communicate with us any other way.