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The Mayans Said That Time Would End

She has burned all her candles, silenced all her clocks. Now she paces her house, counting footsteps, each weighty with the question--what will it mean for this to be my last?

Floorboards flex and creak and mimic the rattle of her spine. Already her bones have abandoned their guise of solidity. Unaware, she tries to straighten a rug with her toes.

When she falls, eggs spill from her womb. They swim the air like minnows, school around her head. Stop, they tell her, there is no more time.

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Tick tock. A sound she is not expecting.

She rests on the floor, suddenly fearful--with time unweaving, surely there is more to be done, but what is there to pack?

A cat darts across the mantle.

She can barely breathe. She tries to remember when.

Around her, the windows are covered with paper; she never noticed though she's lived there for years. The papers snap like bed sheets on a line. She feels herself snap on the line as well, popping off clothespins one by one. Initiating flight.

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Tick tock.

Wind tickles her neck. She stands in a field where windows grow like wild irises and the cat is crouched and purring atop her feet. A door slithers by. There's the echo-like sound of a tock swallowing its own tick.

A voice says, Breathe that fresh air.

The cat melts into her feet, then flexes their mutual toes. Something like an ant, like a dragon, offers up its compound vision, and her time-tuned mind steps aside so she can begin to see. This mind's last thought: should she re-weave or unweave further, or would one act still lead to the next?

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Her hands drip iris blue. Déjà vu.

She's felt this moment before--before time, before the split into after and before.

She laughs, plucks petals, scatters new seas. Budding whales scuttle up; they dive in, shedding dinosaur legs, shedding teeth. Eggs pop from abandoned molars and nestle against her feet. The eggs are tiny dinosaur birds, already pecked free. Imprinting.

The birds hop onto her shoulders. Nibble her hair. High-pitched squawks echo in her mouth, sting like cinnamon candy.

Her joy is iris blue, complete.

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Sunrise and sunset lounge in mirror positions; they buzz her ears with the laughter of their light. They shimmer the field of windows, where reflections swell and pull free from the glass.

She bounces them like bubbles on her fingers.

And rides them into the sky.

And embraces them as the vastness she once thought of as sky--the expanse that has been waiting within her skin, muscles, and bones. All this time.

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The suns have merged--were they ever apart? Laughter lifts her into their single point of focus, the center of their gleaming eye.

Then she is the iris breaking the seal of icy spring soil.

She is the cat and the mouse on its breath.

She is the woman in a house with no windows.

She is the man with a cloak of resplendent feathers.

She is the blade, chipping prophecy into stone.

Very good, the voice tells her. Now remember the rest.

Copyright by Barbara Jacksha

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Barbara Jacksha

Barbara writes:
According to the ancient Mayan Calendar, time will end in the year 2012. This creates fertile ground for a writer. Will it mean the end of the world? The end of linear time as we know it? Or simply the end of the watch- and clock industries? As someone who enjoys pondering things like this, I imagine that the end of linear time will also end the illusion that we are separate from everything around us. Another thing I enjoy pondering.

Barbara Jacksha is an editor and co-founder of Cezanne's Carrot and an editor at the literary journal flashquake. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of publications, including Beloit Fiction Journal, Margin, The Summerset Review, Mad Hatter's Review, Peregrine, Mindprints, Carve Magazine, Poetry Midwest, Tattoo Highway, Smokelong Quarterly, and Quercus Review. Her story "Geometry Can Fail Us" will appear in the upcoming W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. Barbara's work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her screenplay, Lac Mirage, recently won the 2005 Southwest Writers national screenwriting competition. For more information, visit Barbara's website: www.barbarajacksha.com.

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