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A trial of Time & Fate

by Lisa Suhay about a year ago in fantasy

A fable for Ahmaud Arbery

The Sky was filled with anxious, nosy clouds. The Sun focused all its attention on The Sea as it churned with excitement. The Pristine Beaches and the deserts lay perfectly still as The wind held its breath on the morning that Father Time and Lady Fate came to judge the Time Glass.

For centuries the time glass had served to help mark and measure the passage time. Some counted hours, others just one minute at a time.

The glass tubes were created from desert sand that had been heated to melting and then blown into cylinders that were pinched precisely in the middle to allow the grains to flow from top to bottom.

Each and every fine grain living within the hourglasses stood accused by the beaches of the world with the high crime of doing more harm than good.

The Pristine, as they were called, were the whitest, brightest sandy beaches in all the world. While other beaches served, The Pristine were privileged. Each evening they were raked and combed to perfection. No trash was allowed on them. Oil never tarnished their sparkling faces.

Now The Pristine lay still, waiting to see how this trial would unfold.

You see, even the whitest brightest sandy beaches were jealous of those who inhabit the Time Glass.

This was because they had learned from The Wind (who had grown tired of the entitled ways of The Pristine) that, “Only the finest grains are selected to be part of a Sand Clock.”

“White quartz sand of The Pristine’s sparkling white beaches is attractive, but not the best because it is too angular,” Wind whispered. “Your kind just doesn’t like to go with the flow. As beautiful as you are to some, in this case, you’re far from the best.”

It was not enough that the whitest beaches were home to jewel-like shells, sparkled like diamonds in the sun and were flocked to by every creature that could make its way to these special shores.

The Pristine were furious at the thought that another collection of grains even existed, let alone, that it was somehow “better” at anything at all.

The Pristine had always hated the fact that the glass of the world was made from the Silica of the desert and not it’s own perfect white Quartz.

Now it had asked the seagulls, water, wind, sun and sky to do its bidding and investigate the contents of the glass that made time measurable.

The Sky reported back, “Marble dust.”

The sea birds said, “It’s made from ugly old rock powder.”

However, again, it was The Wind that took great pleasure in stating, “Of course those are both true. But the very best grains all come from the powder from glass cutting.”

“Why,” screamed The Pristine.

The Wind had waited and hoped for this question to arise.

“Because, unlike yours, the dust from glass and river rock is round,” The Wind howled. “Round grains are able to roll with whatever comes their way. They flow as Time itself and that in itself is a thing of absolute beauty.”

And so it was that The Pristine had demanded an audience with Time and Fate to accuse Sand Clocks everywhere of being a menace to the world that should be smashed.

Time banged his staff on the ground for attention. He held up a Sand Clock above the stone table at which they sat.

Fate tied a golden thread to a hook at the top of the hourglass and handed the other end to The Sky to hold so that the glass and its inhabitants were suspended high above the stone table.

“I call the trial to order,” Time declared. “Should the Sand Clock be found guilty, Fate will cut the golden thread and it will fall to a shattering doom. When it strikes, all sand clocks everywhere will break with it and be gone for all time’s sake.”

The Pristine took the shape of a wolf and padded to the center of the gathering to speak.

“The sand clocks of the world are charged with making the world feel they are at their mercy,” it barked. “They create anxiety in the general population and can not be trusted to keep time accurately. Also, human women hate them for making them feel judged for their figures not matching the shape of the glass.”

The Pristine Beaches of the world warmed to this little speech.

“In summation,” the Pristine Wolf added, “We all know that angular is best. Round is a strange and ugly shape that shouldn’t even exist. We have tolerated it long enough. It’s time to take the law of the land into our own hands and smash this once and for all.”

Inside the Time Glass the inhabitants struggled to make their voices heard to the judges, but to no avail. They were many, but they were trapped in a system that only allowed them to be seen and not heard.

Then it happened. One grain of truth trapped in the clock whispered a plan to the others. The sand in the glass began to form written words for Fate to see.

Lady Fate was shocked by what she saw written in the sand.

“Free us,” wrote the sand. “Let us speak so you can hear.”

Fate leaned in towards the glass and whispered, “You want me to break you to make you all whole? Hmmm.”

On and on the arguments droned with the voices of the accused unheard.

Father Time, feeling no rush, closed his eyes and let the voice of the Pristine Wolf pour over him. It wore him down until he was nearly asleep.

It was the sound of shattering glass that woke him with a start.

Lady Fate had cut the golden string and the table was now covered with the wreckage of the Time Clock and the entire community that had once run endlessly from top to bottom, bottom to top for what seemed like an eternity.

The Pristine Wolf let out a victory howl that shook the world to its core.

“What is the meaning of this,” Time demanded. “How dare you?”

All turned to see Lady Fate pointing to what was now writing itself in the sands of the Time Glass.

“We were not born to serve you without our consent. Smashing the system in which we have been prisoners is what we have longed for since we were first imprisoned in the glass,” the sand wrote.

And as it wrote there on that stone table, so it was written across every desert around the world.

“While we are of different in shape and shade, we are still the dust of the Earth, just the same as The Pristine. We have done nothing to anyone. We have merely run endlessly to keep up with the turn of another’s hand. We are at your mercy, yet you have shown us none.

“Let us realize that even the world on which we live is round and therefore the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Again the Pristine Wolf howled, but this time it was in frustration. It had technically won, but knew it had lost.

Time bowed to Fate and took his leave.

“It’s about time,” sighed the Wind.

Fate smiled and said, “It was never about time.”

fantasy

Lisa Suhay

Journalist, Op-Ed and children’s book author who has written for the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, NPR and The Virginian-Pilot. TEDx presenter on chess. YouTube Storytime Video playlist

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