art by Melissa Mead
by Sarah Stasik
Nadia woke in the time spiral.
"Time is only a line, a curve, a wave of the hand, and its course is moved," said the man with the silver finger. But that was years ago, eons ago, minutes ago. She no longer knew.
Warm arms wrapped suddenly around her, and a husky voice whispered in her ear. "Not to be dramatic, but I think I must love you."
She didn't have to hold back tears anymore. She was prepared for the words. He slid from the bed with a groan. "I'm sorry; I have to go to work."
"I know," she said, lifting herself up for the kiss. He scooped clothing from the floor. "Rick?"
"I think I must love you, too."
She'd see him again, in the turn of the spiral. Two years, if she rode it straight down. But she wouldn't. She never completed this turn of the spiral, not after the first time around.
Nadia watched people move in the station. They seemed to move in random patterns, but she knew mostly, they lived in lines.
She stood next to a column, above the man with a cup full of coins. He shifted occasionally, and the nickels rattled. She waited for the repeat rhythm, the scratch-scratch of nickels that didn't come natural. That was the only cue in this part of the spiral. The first time, she'd almost missed it. She'd almost ended it.
Sometimes, she wished she could bring herself to do it on purpose.
Her practiced ear tuned automatically. Her feet moved without conscious thought. As the nickel scratched a time glitch rhythm, she leapt in front of the next train in.
The little girl was five years old here. She ate cotton candy on a bench with her mother. The woman recognized Nadia, and frowned. But Nadia didn't approach.
She only watched the girl eat cotton candy, waiting for the moment when she first knew.
"Mommy, look!" said the girl, pointing toward the ocean. "Dolphin!"
The smile that shined across the water belonged to someone Nadia knew. But the eyes belonged to her.
It wasn't until the little girl was born that Nadia realized the problem of the spiral. It wasn't until the little girl moved forward that Nadia hated the man with the silver finger.
All the time in the world, and the ability to jump back and forth. But everyone else lived in a line. And Nadia lived in a curve.
Nadia woke in the time spiral.
This was the only place she could sleep. Warm arms wrapped around her. "Not to be dramatic, but I think I must love you."
"Let's run away to some run-down beach town," she said.
He climbed from the bed with a groan. "Sounds tempting, but I have to go to work."
"I know," she said. He always went to work. And she went wherever she wanted, back or forth on the time spiral. It didn't matter what she did. His line ran straight through her curves, and the only place they connected quite often was in the center near the end.
Nadia looked for the man with the silver finger. She'd never seen him again. She wondered how his line didn't constantly intersect her. She wished she remembered when he'd been.
Nadia stood in the office. People bustled about. No one had enough time--they lived by watches, calendars, and schedules. Nadia remembered, though she tried to forget.
"I can help with your problems. I can make all the time. Time is a line to be wavered, to be traveled. A rope to be twisted and tied."
She'd only wanted more time, to have more life with Rick. She'd only wanted to slow down, to savor the moments she loved.
Nadia stood in the coffee shop.
"Do I know you?" Rick asked.
"No, I don't think so," she answered.
He stared at her, then ordered his coffee. The moment was awkward. It always was.
The first time, she'd told him the truth. Not about the time spiral, but about the baby. Nadia didn't know where they'd taken her. She only saw her when that line crossed her curves.
In the old world, before the time spiral, she was going to marry Rick. The baby would have been theirs. They would have had a normal life. A hectic, busy life with never enough time, and it would have been more than enough.