“Oh, God, help me… Please.” He had begun to beg, beg for any kind of redemption he could receive. His eyes shook with the agonizing search for a solution that didn’t exist.

In the center of the room stood a simple machine. Two glass half-spheres connected smoothly by a thin, sloping tube, too small for a flea to pass through… but a grain of sand?

Easily. The glossy top was a deep chestnut, engraved along the sides and polished. It shone in the sun that lit up his spotless space in an exquisite, golden lacquer. Doorless with a towering ceiling above him, he wept in his room and stared at the moments slipping by.

He was an older man. Old enough to garden without derision. He saton the floor, one leg bent under him and leaning on his opposite knee. In his hand was a tattered old book. He read quietly and smiled as he flipped each page.

Looking up, he fixed a glance on his hour glass. There were no numbers, no hands or dials or pendulums. Just time slipping through scuffed, cloudy plastic held upright by a cheap, tin frame. It was tacky, but his own. He watched it affectionately, the grey and tan grains cascading seemlessly from the top to the bottom of the contraption.

“Soon…” he cooed.

The grasp of the floor to the flat base of his time keeper was unwavering. Not a tug nor a shift occurred no matter how hard he pushed or how strong he kicked. He ran at it, he yanked at the top, and pulled at the delicate wooden columns. His veins protruded, filling the underside of his skin with blood. He spit and grunted, jerking sporadically with the whole of his might to remove it.

Maybe I can throw it. It’ll break and shatter and it’ll be over. It’ll stop.

He clutched the glass, holding the sand’s artfully crafted home between his palms. He began to squeeze, his arms shaking. His teeth cracked over each other with his effort as sweat beads gathered and fell on his face and neck. The glass held firm. His knuckles whitened and his eyebrows furrowed like a tripped over carpet above his focused eyes.

The pressure of the glass against meat and bone was overwhelming. In his crazed desperation, he pushed past his limits. His bones fragmented under the stress of madness against an unbreakable tool.

An inhuman roar erupted from his ragged lungs and he flung himself across the polished floor, surrounded by bookcases that reached the ceiling, clutching his broken hand. The walls that absorbed his screams were adorned with art and jewels and beautiful drapes of gold and blue. He looked on it all with blind eyes, staring in disbelief with his mouth hanging wide open and tears forming along the rims of his eyes.

“I can’t… can’t stop it.”

The old man breathed deeply, taking in the fresh fragrance of earth and flowers and wind. It had rained and with it came a cleanness that blessed him with pleasantness now. He relished.

Music played softly, muted as if originating from the room over. He couldn’t decipher the words but the tone was clear and the music well played. Humming, he tapped his foot in his little padded chair and watched miles of grass melt together in a whimsical choreography. Yellows and greens and shades of brown whirled and brushed against each other creating a chorus loud enough to lead one’s mind astray.

But he wasn’t thinking of anything at all. His mind was clear. His ears were open. His lungs were full. His skin was warm. His heart was strong. The whisper of movement behind him hiccuped and he turned. The last swirl of sand jolted his heart and he felt his eyes fill. He smiled as the last few minuscule fibers fell down the pathway.

He observed the bare walls around him and admired their simplicity. He turned back towards the open window as air left his body and the familiar pounding of his inner chamber slowed to a stop.

“Thank you… for everything.” And he knelt down on the ground. He drifted from himself in a hazy night time dream.

“Help me, help me, help me, help me,” the young man pleaded. Tears streamed down his face and mixed with mucus and saliva. There was no measurement of time. No acknowledgment of anything except for the incessant hiss of the sand and the throbbing his head. He was battered and bruised by his own actions through despair. He had thrown himself to the walls and the floor and dragged himself through every book and shelf in search of an answer. He had screamed out the window for help, damaging his hands further with their grip on the sill and smacking his skull against the hard wood when he was not answered.

The pain inched up his wrists, wrapping around the bone in a reptilian crawl. He bit his lip bloody. “God help me.”


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