Madeline knows it’s only a matter of moments now. The rhythm of her son’s heart is starting to faint. The many beeps in the ICU will soon turn to one long noise. The worst is inevitable. It cannot be overridden. Waiting is the only relevant activity. The ‘when’ isn’t certain, but that’s no antidote for despair. It’s rather an enhancer. Uncertainty disallows her to trust any moment at hand – for any could mark the ultimate end. Helpless, she is, sourced by the impossibility of an intervention.

And how helpless are they – the inmate waiting for the bell to toll in his name as he waits next in line for the hanging ropes, the warrior whose neck is up next for the sword speeding up against him as he let his guard down.

The clock’s tik-toks have gotten louder. Madeline’s senses have mandated a greater awareness of time. It’s more real. More threatening. More vivid than ever. Indisputable. But what greatness can be achieved here? In the face of the inevitable, ‘waiting’ is a constant default. It’s a prison. She screams. She panics. She calls for help. No zeal effective enough to change the passage of time that has found only one direction forward.

Perhaps in the face of the unchangeable, any act of hers is under the authority of waiting. It’s probably been this way for her ever-since his death was imprinted into the future. Only now, it’s noticed well. The invisible bars of time’s captivity are finally felt. The clock tik-toks. It wouldn’t tok-tik. The passage is too rigid. Madeline is free to move anywhere but away from time. It knows only one way.

Many bearded wise ones have claimed to have felt timelessness. But they’re dead now. And ones alive will depart. The philosophers and scientists that have had their share of eureka on the subject had no different fate than the bearded folks. Some claimed time to be an illusion. Maybe they’re right. The arrow of time even for them points the same way as it has for Madeline’s son.

How far is a traveler supposed to go to distance itself from the captivity of time? And where are those guards? How long is the sentence? What contract is this that’s signed without her knowing?

Maybe death is an escape to the sentence. Or maybe there’s a new one on the other side. Her son is to know that soon. But I wouldn’t know. I’ve gone back and forth as I write this. The corrections of the past have been made in the flow of the present. I’ve reached every corner of the page. But the clock’s needles circle only one way.

The sword is almost there. The bell has finally rang. Do they see the bars now? Perhaps they appear with confession of one’s imprisonment. The beeps are now fluctuating. Her already faded hopes are now dying. The clock’s still ticking. Madeline’s waiting. We all are.

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