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One Moment

One Moment

A Story by Omar
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A short tale of time and existence takes place in the Archival, an ancient library.

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“Is the time a man spends reading about time… time well spent?”

The wrinkled ears of an old man perked up.

“Are you implying that all our work here is fruitless?” The old scholar said with amusement rather than scorn as he gestured with spiderlike-fingers at the foregone archives around them.

“No, Master Zane.” The apprentice answered, eyes cast down in doubt, already regretting he asked.

The scholar chuckled, and his silver beard swayed like a waterfall of ashes.

Air within the Archival was thick, as though it took effort to inhale. Massive leatherback tomes and gilded scrolls were half-opened before the scholar and the student. Every rustle of a paper and every scratch of a quill resonated past the colossal rows of shelves.

“Never back down from a spar of intellects.” Master Zane, said solemnly this time. “Answer me; do you believe what we do now is without value?”

“Sorry. What I meant was"“

“And never apologize in vain. Thinking is never wrong, Aro.”

“Sorr" er… What I meant was; how can the knowledge of time serve anyone?”

Master Zane put down his glasses and licked his cracked lips; a habit Aro saw him do too often.

“What is time, Aro?”

A fist-sized orb of crystallized flame hovered above the mosaic floors at a man’s height. It shone brightly, serving as a reading light for the guests. Observers, they were called. However, the Observer’s golden-yellow beams could not reach every corner of the Archival’s labyrinthine and seemingly endless halls. Other Observers often floated by slowly, as if on guard duty.

“Time is seconds and minutes. Days and years.”

Occasionally, an unattended book would sprout twelve tiny and segmented legs from the heel, carry itself off the marble table indignantly and fly back to its shelf, fluttering its dusty pages like a thousand-winged butterfly.

Nobody took care of the Archival; it took care of itself.

“No, those are mere tools we invented to measure time accurately.” said Master Zane. “What time really is… is moments.”

“Moments?”

“Moments.” Master Zane licked his lips again, his glass-smooth baldness turned into deep wrinkles as he raised his eyebrows. “Like grains of sand form deserts, and arrows of water form rainstorms, moments form time.”

“How does that answer my query?” Aro asked, almost loudly.

“Patience, Aro.” Master Zane said. “Time, contrary to was once believed, is not a rope onto which one can simply go forward or "laughably" backward. It is not a fuse of a cannon that, once alight, fizzles towards its end. Time is a meshwork. Imagine a line. That line is you. I am about to hit you with this book. What would you do if I were to do that?”

“Step away, naturally. Otherwise you’d hurt me.” Aro answered, rubbing his arm while imagined the book smacking him, as though he were familiar to the feeling.

“Two possibilities. The line is now a fork. The bifurcation’s two new lines are two outcomes of whether you take the hit or avoid it. One becomes your reality, and the other becomes your ‘What If.’ You decide which one is which. Once you’re in your new line, you come face to face with another bifurcation, and another decision that you must take. Sometimes you have more than two choices, and sometimes you don’t have a choice at all. Sometimes your lines come across other people’s lines, and sometimes the decisions they make affect your lines, or vice versa. Everything has its own lines and forks; countless realities fusing into one, as well as countless ‘What If’s that could have been realities. They all interlink into the ever-growing meshwork of time.”

“I don’t believe that is what time is made of, Master Zane.” Aro said, and almost hesitated. When he saw his teacher was actually intrigued, he continued, “Don’t you think it encompasses all rather than form around us? That it exists regardless of whether or not we exist?”

Master Zane smiled, showing rows of overused teeth, deep furrows grew besides his eyes. “You are absolutely correct, Aro. Time does not require us to exist.”

“But you said that we form time, that we are the lines and forks.”

“No.” Master Zane raised a finger. “The lines and forks exist, but we help them take shape, like a cup gives shape to a fluid, and potters give shape to clay. Can’t you see, Aro? Time may flow without us, but we do exist. We are the reason time flows like it does.”

“What do we even hope to accomplish here, Master?” Aro said. “What if we do know what time is made of?”

“We already do! Moments, Aro. Moments!” Master Zane exclaimed with the excitement of a twelve-year-old. “Moments are the bolts and cogs that hold together the very foundation of time! Time, as I’ve said, is a meshwork. A net. And what holds a net together other than the areas where threads divide and conjoin? The dots where lines become forks, the points where one line crashes into another, changing the destiny of both lines… those are moments. Those are the true components of time! Moments!

“Aro my boy, just as humans detect and memorize temperature differences with their skin, tastes with their tongues, colors with their eyes, the human mind detects and memorizes time. Time, however, is memorized in moments. You remember moments, Aro. You remember certain happenings; certain decisions you’ve made and regretted; certain moments when you’ve said words you wish you did not! Happy moments! Sad moments! We remember nothing but moments!”

“But sir…”

“Moments are the turning points that change everything forever.  Moments are the true building blocks of time itself. Look at time as an entity from afar, and all you will see is a constellation of moments. Moments are everything.”

“Sir, the purpose?” Aro said shyly. He did not like to interrupt his master, but he also could not take another one of his long-winded speeches that don’t answer his questions.

“Erm, yes, yes, your question.” Master Zane said, picked up his silver-rimmed spectacles and wore it again as it magnified his small eyes from two beads to two eclipses. He flipped through a dusty tome again as he spoke, “We may not be able to change history as it is, for changing a single crucial moment would be the most dangerous of misdeeds, but we still can observe them; as keys."

Aro listened impatiently.

"Keys that can be switched, resulting in hypothetical outcomes "or the ‘What If’s" and learn what might have happened if different choices were made. This will not only help us revel at the power of the moment and how many fates one difference can change. It will also teach us to make better decisions in our futures, and teach us which turns could be the right turns; not with foresight, but with wisdom.”

“Master, it says right here"“ Rip.

Aro tugged at a book by a single page and tore it.

"No!"

At the sound of the page ripping, the attending Observer’s golden light suddenly turned blood red and whirred angrily. The furious red orb then slammed into the ground as though it weighed a ton, sinking into the floor.

“Master, what’s happening?” Aro said frantically, almost choking on his own spit. Both the scholar and the student were on their feet now with frightful anticipation.

“Nobody takes care of the Archival, Aro.” Master Zane said as he quickly put his glasses back on. “The Archival takes care of itself.”

“Wh-what do we do!?”

Like a maze set on fire, the mosaic pattern of the floor around the orb started shining red as well. At the sound of the fall, the other Observers throughout the maze-like library also shone a ruby red and fell, their thundering stone-on-stone thuds echoing everywhere.

Remember, Aro.

Moments are everything. Health, harm. Joy, sorrow. Even life and death. All it takes for one to become our reality and the other to vanish forever…

“Run.”

The orb was rising again. While it rose, the small squares and circles of the floor’s marble were clinging to it, reshaping themselves around the crimson sphere in rapid, loud clatters. Sand seeped from the cracks, stained red.

Aro was too hesitant to obey, rooted to his place in fright. “Shouldn’t we l-l-leave the books here?”

“I said RUN!” Master Zane roared at his apprentice. The old man was in frenzy, scooping up books and dumping them into his leather rucksack.

The loud clatters stopped.

A 12-foot-tall statue of marble towered before them. Aro was in awe, rooted to his place, still clenching the torn page in his fist. The statue’s thick, powerful body was covered with what once was a beautiful mosaic pattern, and now looked like a plethora of blood rivers. The Observer was set within the statue’s head as its crimson eye, frowning upon the disrespectful guests. Books flew away frantically, fleeing the impending wrath of the colossal guardian.

“NONE MAY TARNISH THE ARCHIVAL.”

Master Zane looked up.

Aro dropped the page.

… is one moment.

THUD.

“MASTER!”

© 2013 Omar


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Added on February 2, 2013
Last Updated on February 2, 2013
Tags: time, existence, one moment, one, moment, zane, archival, master

Author

Omar
Omar

Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia



About
"Everything is temporary." 23 years old, physician, soon-to-be psychiatrist. more..

Writing
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