You Think You Have Time

5d4e1f0e11a98e167bdc4780ea1701a8Stella stared at the ceiling, trying hard to keep her eyes from drifting toward the numbers glowing blue on the clock beside her bed.   Just a few more hours, she’d told herself the last time she looked, and it will all be over.

She’d reminded herself countless times — by next week it would all be behind her.  That was the promise that kept her going, along with a substantial amount of caffeine, through all the studying and worrying.

Exams were a thing of the past now, but her habit of wishing herself forward in time was an effective tool and she used it often.   As life pushed and pulled at her she wished for weekends and counted down to vacation days.  She longed for a solid eight hours of sleep when her son was first born, and she hung on during those early years of her marriage by telling herself things would be better when her husband’s promotion came through.   Stella’s approach to the challenges that life presented was to endure, and she did it well.

Resisting the urge to look at the clock as she climbed from beneath the sheets, Stella quietly descended the stairs and stepped out onto the porch.  It was a warm night and she walked through the garden, moonlight illuminating her path, the sweet scent of Angel’s Trumpet lingering in the night air.  There was a hammock at the far corner of the yard and she lay there, looking up at the stars and wondering, briefly, if anyone or anything were up there looking back at her.  Cradled there in the hammock, her mind wandered to images of her children and the many hours they spent playing there and imploring her to join them… it was almost painful now to admit she never had.  All those hours spent toiling in the garden; she never once thought to step back and simply enjoy it.

Tears were not something Stella allowed herself to indulge in often, her stoic nature not inclined to crack, but tonight they welled within her eyes, blurring her vision and making the stars twinkle in beautiful patterns.  She wanted it back…all that time she had wished away.   Enduring her days was an effective distraction and yet now, at the end of her time, she wondered what else she had blocked out along with the pain and hardships of life.   How many times had she asked, Is it Friday yet?  Now she’d give anything for just one more Monday.

It isn’t as if she didn’t know death would come for her one day.  But somehow, one day always seemed so very far away.  Lying there, under the vast night sky, the irony of infinite time was not lost on her and her mind drifted, wondering what she might have done differently.  A sleepless night with her newborn son might have been spent whispering quiet stories to him, marveling at his perfect smallness and inhaling the smell of him.  Memory of a night like that would have brought her comfort on a night like this.  If only she had known.

If only she had realized at the time that some of her happiest years were being spent in that cheap apartment in the city, before the promotion and the big house that her husband was almost never home to enjoy.  If only she had stopped for just a moment yesterday to appreciate the creamy smoothness of her coffee, tasting the hint of vanilla in its perfect sweetness instead of drinking it down like medicine to get her through the morning.  There was a gift in every day…she saw that now, and she wished desperately for all of them back, promising to cherish every minute if only she could have a second chance.  Stella pleaded and sobbed under the night sky as the stars faded into dawn.  Mere hours remained before she would lie open and vulnerable on the operating table, her chances slim, afraid that her lack of gratitude would be mistaken for apathy.

A young nurse, dressed in blue scrubs, was now telling her to relax and breathe deeply.   Stella resisted the urge to wish it were over and instead found solace in the nurses’ kind smile as she drifted off, peaceful in the knowledge that, for once, she’d noticed.


 

©Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015

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12 thoughts on “You Think You Have Time

  1. I like your message here, but I do think a balance needs to be struck. A lot of life happens after-the-fact, like my happy childhood wasn’t any one event and wasn’t something I strove for; it was a collection of rocks that I happened upon on my way to adolescence and didn’t sit down to appreciate until my adulthood. Gah! Well, you’re story definitely has me thinking!

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    1. Oh I completely agree…its not about striving for something or special events…its about the normal every single day stuff. Much of this we don’t appreciate until looking back on it but many people get so hung up on wishing for more or better that it pervades their entire outlook and they forget to just live in the mean time…spending all their time focusing on “if only” or “someday”. A happy childhood, or adulthood for that matter, is lived day by day…taking what comes and not missing out on the simple pleasures because we’re too focused on what we don’t have or waiting for something better to come along. Sounds cheesy but it’s so true… “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” So thanks for taking the time to comment…hearing that something I wrote got someone I don’t even know thinking about this stuff…that’s one of life’s little things that makes my day.

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    1. I’ve been in that place many times myself and I’ve spent the past 2 years really trying hard to notice the simple pleasures that come every single day (even on the bad days)…they’re there whether I notice them or not so its worth the effort. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and let me know it meant something to you. I really appreciate it.

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  2. I connected immediately with Stella, feeling the ache in her heart at realizing all that time had been lost. And I read her thoughts on how she could have done it better – how she could do it better – with a feeling of hope and inspiration. “A sleepless night with her newborn son might have been spent whispering quiet stories to him, marveling at his perfect smallness and inhaling the smell of him. ” What a wonderful outlook! This is truly something I will bring into my own life – I don’t quite rush through time the way she did, but I do try to improve my ability to be in the moment and to appreciate things. Lovely writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know that you connected on a personal level with my writing. What a great feeling that is for me, to have accomplished that! As for the struggle to stay in the moment…that’s a hard one for so many of us, and something I really work hard to remember. Have you ever seen the movie “About Time”. If not, it’s worth it for the lesson in the last 10 minutes alone. Thanks again for commenting.

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  3. We can see so much of her life story through her thoughts alone. I like the way you anchor those memories with details like the blue clock numbers, Angel’s trumpet, vanilla in the coffee–just the kind of details the speaker is trying to hold on to and appreciate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. It’s hard to find the right balance between detail and moving plots along within tiny word counts. I always struggle with that. Makes me feel good to know the reader appreciates the details and happy I stuck to what felt right. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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