That man was desperate, walking through that strange forest, circling everywhere. He thought he had been doing it for hours and hours, wondering where he was. He had lost all notion of the time he had been wandering aimlessly. He was in a hurry and he didn't know how to get out of the woods where he thought he could find a shortcut in his way to work.
However, he was more worried about being late to attend pending appointments at the office. He kept walking, trying not to stain his suit or shoes, holding his briefcase full of important documents.
Suddenly, he ran into a solitary little girl, with reddish hair, thin and with nice features, who wandered freely around, fiddling with the leaves of the floor. The man approached her to ask for some guidance:
"Hey, girl, do you know how I can get out of this forest?" he asked.
The girl looked at him out of the corner of her eye, smiled and said:
"I don't know, sir."
The man felt a little frustrated by her response, but he tried to remain calm, and then tried asking another question:
"Little girl, do you know what time is it?"
"No, sir" she said.
He began to feel a little more disappointed and baffled.
"Do you know at least what day it is today?" he asked.
"I do know that", she replied: "it's tomorrow."
"What have you said?"
The girl repeated:
"I said it's tomorrow, sir."
"What? That's impossible... explain yourself please" he asked.
"Today is tomorrow, sir, that's what I said."
"I don't understand you."
"Sir, in this place time is something more difficult to understand."
"Okay... could you tell me what day it will be tomorrow, little girl?" he asked, trying to remain in calm.
"Tomorrow was yesterday, sir" she answered.
"How could be that possible?!" he exclaimed, annoyed, because he thought the little girl was teasing him.
She looked at him and said:
"I already told you that in this place time is... tangled up. Things are all upside down around here."
"Including the order of the days?" he asked.
"I think so... I suggest you to don't break your head trying to understand it" said the mysterious girl, but... she had begun to grow: now she was a little taller and began to acquire the features of a teenager.
"Why do you say that? Do not you understand that I need to know what day it is?!"
The teen girl frowned.
"Why so much urgency for the order of the days, sir?"
"Because I need to know on what day I live!"
"What for, sir? Why don't you just live the days?"
"Because I can't, I need to know what day it is!" he replied, already quite angry.
"Do you really need to know? Can't you live the days like that and just enjoy them?"
"No! I can't live without knowing that. I need to know it to plan things."
"¿To plan things? I don't understand what you say, sir."
"Don't you know what planning means? Planning is to keep an order of things that you will do in the future."
"Oh, I see... and you're always planning everything, right?"
"Sure, so I can control my time better and take advantage of it" the young girl let out a small chuckle and then he asked angry: "Are you making fun of me?"
"Excuse me, sir, is that it seems more like time controls you" replied the teenager, who kept growing little by little until she became a young woman.
"Bah! What will you know?! You just discovered what it means to plan!"
On her face, the mysterious lady could not hide her annoyance at the attitude of her interlocutor.
"And do you think it is possible to control time? To twist time or straighten it maybe?"
"No, you don't understand me. I didn't mean to control like that."
"That's curious! Because time cannot be controlled in any way!" replied the young woman, with a challenging attitude.
"You still don't understand me. I'm talking about dividing time to take advantage of it."
"I don't understand that either: how can you talk about cutting time if time is always continuous? Can you cut the water of a river?"
The man saw the young woman in front of him, she looked more mature, and said:
"No, no, no. You're taking my words very literally."
"And you don't understand me, sir. It is that there is no metaphor for time. Time is always literal" she sentenced, already quite exalted.
Then, the man remained silent. He was perplexed by the responses of that unusual woman.
He carefully sat on the dry leaves on the forest floor to think about everything that was going on. That situation was so rare ... and every statement of that girl, teenager and now woman puzzled him more and more. He took a long look around, contemplating the trees and then looked back at the mature lady.
And then, after a really strange time, he spoke again:
"How do you manage to live like this?"
"What do you mean?" she answered, more relaxed.
"I'm asking you how can you live like this?"
"Like this?" she replied, and the man felt that once again she was teasing him, but he refrained from raising his voice.
"How do you live without knowing anything about what day it is or how much time you spend doing this or that?"
"I just live life. That's it. I stopped worrying about time because it's something you can never do much about."
"Explain yourself please. It's just that... I feel so confused right now."
"Look: you can only live and do things with the time you have, you know? I don't worry about the day, the time or anything specific. In the end, I know that time always flows, although sometimes it seems... tangled up" she said quietly, as she grew older and older.
"Your words surprise me..."
"No matter how many plans you make, time always takes advantage on you. Today is always tomorrow before you realize it and tomorrow turns yesterday sooner than the blink of an eye" she said, in a more mature voice, while her reddish hair began to turn white in front of the incredulous subject's eyes. "I think so, sir. Maybe it's a matter of perspective."
"Is that another metaphor?" he said.
"No, I already told you that time's always literal. You will soon realize that here and there time is uncontrollable"
He nodded. He got up from the ground, took his briefcase and politely said goodbye to the hunched old woman he met that day. And he kept walking, this time with more calm. It didn't take him long to find the rest of the shortcut again: he discovered that he had to go slowly to keep track of it. When he left the forest and returned to the streets, he realized that life was going with his usual fast pace.. Time kept running, but he didn't run anymore.
When he arrived at the office, the clock showed almost the usual time. He smiled.
"I'm on time," he said.
[Author's note: the original story was written between 2017 and 2019, in spanish, and translated by myself in 2019].
Thank you for reading!
We process all of our transactions with PayPal. Please don't close this window, and wait until you are redirected...