Once upon a time, a really bad thing happened. Actually, that’s not quite true. Many bad things have happened, many times. And really, the degree to which it was ‘bad’ really depends on your perspective. For example, this was only bad for almost all living and nonliving beings in the Universe. There was at least one being—well, one thing—property?—dimension?—power?—at least, there was certainly something which thought this would turn out quite well.
You see, Time had gone through so many Once Upons that it realized something very, very important: unless you’re in the hands of some sort of weirdo modernistic narrator, and those are a fraction of the sum total of all narrators who exist, and not a particularly meaningful fraction, at that—
in general, Once Upon A Time is where you find Happily Ever After.
Oh, ordinarily, you need to dig through a bunch of stuff about Faeries and Princesses and Dragons, and such, and all those things are fine for, you know, children, and/or the kind of strange misfits who enjoy fantasy stories, but, obviously, they don’t play much of a role in the life of any serious entity. Who cares about those people?
So at a particular moment, Time stepped right into the Once Upon. It didn’t beat about the bush; whatever Time is, it probably doesn’t have limbs, and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t use them to attack random vegetation. It simply accelerated through the story. Or maybe all the stories; it’s hard to tell. Time can move very quickly, when it so desires. And for those of us who are not Cosmic Forces, it doesn’t really matter. Did it speed us through one tale, or ten thousand tales? It’s hard to tell. There may have been a vast profusion of Fairytale things, but they all plummeted by;
three kindly Faerie Godmothers stormed the Castle in order to prick their fingers on the spindle which was attempting to turn straw into Dragons devouring Princesses marrying Princes doing battle with enchanted Frogs whose Porridge was too hot to allow them to pose as Grandma and wear the clothing of Wolves because the seven million Dwarves had sheltered the Wicked Queen after her Magic Mirror had tried to eat Hansel and Gretel;
or so it seemed. This lasted forever and took no time at all and also never happened; that’s an unpleasant combination, but there are more things on Heaven and Earth than art dreamt of in your lack of philosophy, Horatio; or at least, so I’ve been told.
At any rate—more specifically, at its own special rate, which, partly because Time is, literally, time, a rate that only time can comprehend, much less achieve—so, to put it better, at Time’s pace, it fast-forwarded the story (or perhaps all stories) and arrived at Happily Ever After. And that’s where Time lived, forever and ever, and it was Forever Happy, unlike all the rest of us, who, having been abandoned by Time, are screwed.
And this is why everything seems to take forever, and also goes by far too fast. We have not, as Vonnegut said, “come unstuck in time”; rather, Time has unstuck itself from us.
Now you know.
AND NOBODY, NO-ONE ANYWHERE, NO-ONE EXCEPT TIME LIVED HAPPILY, EVER, EVER AGAIN.
* * *
If Time has forgotten about us, left us to our own devices, then let’s forget it right back. We’ve still got clocks and measurement (it seems to be just our sense of time which left us; it isn’t that we no longer know when it’s 3 p.m., it’s that suddenly it’s three p.m. and we’re horribly late for something we didn’t even know existed.)
So to Hell with Time! Let’s not worry so much that we’re doing the wrong thing for a given moment, or that we should be doing more or less, or that we have simply, somehow, managed to arrive at a place we never intended, and now it’s too late to change. No: none of that. If Time has seen fit to desert us and go on vacation, then we shall go on vacation from it. I hereby give you back all of your Time:
All that you have done with your time is right. Even the bad things. Even the mistakes. Maybe it wasn’t all pleasant, or all joyous; maybe some of it was the worst. But it happened, and it’s behind you, and everything behind you is lost in time, and Time is lost in a margarita in Wonderland, so you are freed forever.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.
p.s. I wasn’t thinking about this consciously before, but I’d like to dedicate this song to Jim Steinman and Meatloaf. As they put it: “You were only killing time, and it’ll kill you right back.”