Astrid sat on her bed, poised in an unnaturally erect position. Shoulders stiff, legs crossed tight while she slowly rests her hands on her knees.
Her eyes were shut tight.
Away from the world, away from herself, away from away itself.
She fidgeted. Eyelids! Huh! She was reminded of what someone said of a podcaster – lucky that your listeners didn’t have eyelids!
That was illogical, sight is definitely more accessible than sound, you don’t even need to be there! You could write to be seen, draw to be remembered, doodle for the fun of it, vandalize just for the spite of it-and you leave, knowing well enough that it would be seen and continue to be seen. But sounds! You need either a machine or yourself to be there for it to work. Dependent, ultra dependent. It comes and goes, you know-one ear in, one ear out.
And provided that we were all fine and just with telegrams and letters before Alexander visited with the telephone. And the sound sanctuaries-libraries, oh how horrid it would be for them. Astrid couldn’t imagine how podcasted advertisements could be broadcasted together, what a cacophony it would be, but billboards, of course, anywhere, everywhere. And, oh! How much more unfortunate it would be if you were blind than deaf. She was certain that Braille was so much harder than sign language. And hola, sign language definitely needed sight to function.
Astrid laughed to herself in satisfaction, illogical, illogical!
She shifted her legs. Concentrate. Concentrate.
Rose garden, rose garden-red, white and blue, sky, cobalt-like her eyes, cloudless, ribbons in her hair, the color of straw, riding in the wind as she ran, she ran…
The curtains were shut. The first light of dawn poured in-tried to-resulting in a semi-translucent quality through the red opaque curtains, the nauseating tinge you see when you shine a torch through your closed fingers.
What lies behind it was unclear, as with what happens beneath those eyelids.
Every few seconds they quivered. Astrid had this compulsive need to blink them, especially when they were closed.
On the wall left of her hung a calendar. It was February, the year 2005. Crosses and circles filled up the 28 boxes on the flimsy sheet-what looked like a game of tic-tac-toe was going on in between the days. On the table below it was a dice with three O’s and three X’s branded alternately on its six faces.
Astrid opened her eyes. She remained stiffly in position, staring hard ahead as if she had just paused for a blink-a matter of seconds.
Letting out of a breath, she turned sluggishly to the clock. 5.17 am. Her birthday in a moment. 43 minutes-her birth time, to be precise. Lying stretched on her stomach, she reached for a pencil and proceeded to add a box next to 28, a sluggish little box. She held the dice between her palms, close to her lips, eyes shut, head bowed, muttering under her breath-pious, ritualistic.
Eyes fixed, she turned to the calendar and scanned the scattered make-up of crosses and circles. She then fingered diagonally down 2, 10 and 18-circle, circle and circle, before collapsing with a sigh. Just one more cross. The 11, 17 and 23 still held some hope. She prayed hard for 29th to be a circle.
Holding out her hand, she tossed the dice. But instead of the table top, it made a dive for the ground.
Tut. Tut. tut.tut.tut.tut.tut.tutttttttt. Tut. Astrid groaned.
Probably under the bed.
Astrid had always thought the leap year to be foolish. One thing it was to skip her actual birthdate, but more importantly, there are 365¼ days in a year! What exactly happened to this ¼ was shaved off by men and dumped carelessly into the years divisible by 4. Men’s allergy to fractions and decimals, as usual.
She had been born in the lost times. The ‘and a quarters’, exactly 6am on February 29th 1992. On the 1422th hour of the year, she would have preferred it to be called. For you see, if someone were to be born exactly a year later than her, by this system of logic, they would have been a year and a day older than her, even when they were both born on the 1422th hour of the 2 respective years.
Superbly ridiculous and nonsensical! She mused-pompous in her grown-up voice.
And ever since then, she made it a habit to include February 29th to her calendars each year, the 6th hour day borrowing time from March the 1st annually, until what-you-call the ‘leap year’ arrives. March the 1st would then last 42 hours in total.
Casting a brief glance down her bed, she sat back up again when she could catch no signs that the dice was within close proximity for the lethargic.
But when she was older, she’d later found her own system illogical-the 6 hours were borrowed time and did not contribute as the responsible ¼ for the 365 days eventually. She had thought of trying a 4 year cycle where March the 1st would remain 24 hours after each 6-hour-long February 29th. Each day would start at 6am, 12pm and 6pm each following year and alas 12am, the typical calendar you and I have!
Precise as it was, but not practical.
Time was re-la-tive, she had read somewhere-not fixed, meaning it didn’t matter what a millennium, a century, a decade, a year, a day, a minute, a second was. Let’s say you always take a minute to run to the store and back-it wouldn’t change even if minute were to be redefined. Time was calibrated only by men with their units of time and calendars-if only time could be calibrated by time, Astrid thought. It would be the fairest system around-measuring a day by its sunrise and sunset. “Meet me at the store at the time you take to get to the store!” Astrid would say. But then someone would take too long and another would be left waiting. Not very good, she supposed.
Astrid thought what it would be like to be immortal.
Would she pause at a certain age-like now? Or does she get to choose? Or would she be aging slowly, much more slowly than the regular process-but if there are stages like these, would these stages be infinite, but does that mean that you can age forever? Definitely not-if these stages were to be expanded much longer than the normal process, then how many times would they be? An infinite amount of times, definitely. But that would mean nothing! You simply stay at a certain age forever, but that leads us back to the question-what age?
And then she decided that whoever who created the notion of immortality hadn’t thought hard enough. Simply put, it didn’t exist.
Astrid stretched out her hands before her, examining every inch of skin. She peered into the mirror-the last of her before the 1422th hour. But how much different would it be, really? Technically speaking, its just another minute. Its just the mind’s workings. Just the mind’s workings.
She bounced off the bed, straightening her dress. She smiled into the mirror, pushing her hair to the back of her ears before the smile vaporized, giving way to the usual poker. She lifted her eyes away to the torch, under the bed, kneeling down, covering her nose, contorting herself into a position that would require minimal contact with the dusty surface under her bed.
Armed with a cloth hanger, she fished it out with much effort. A cross, an ominous cross!
Desperate, she tossed it again, reasoning that 1. It had fell off the table and hadn’t taken its original course-something against its destiny, its fate. A freak accident in nature. A retry was well-deserved. 2. It was her birthday. Birthdays are special.