Theorizing

Flash Fiction July, 23

A theory: that time is a malfunctioning reset option.

She writes, stops. Already she’s working on proving the theory, catching up to herself as her mind slowly, ideas barely catching sparks. This is the worst time of working, when her mind fails to make connections and doesn’t take things into account. Times like this, she makes various connection boards and adds to them over weeks of thinking.

Proof: She stops, formulates a new thought. Continues working.

She scribbles notes, taps a few things into her phone’s memo pad and jots down other things on paper; the back of a shopping receipt is the closest to hand.

Side note: She has reset her work mode.

She repeats the process, writes down extra notes and pauses, pours a fresh cup of tea and makes toast. Comes back to the paper, keeps writing. There’s really no logic to it, this isn’t for any form of study. This has no degree waiting at the end of it, no letter grade telling her how well her theory works.

Conclusion: She’s right. So far she has caused several resets just by virtue of being awake and human, watching the clock tick away minute after minute. By the time she turns her attention back to the work, it’s been two hours ten minutes and she’s lost her train of thought five times. Had several ideas, lost some of them almost as soon as she’d thought them and written some of them down only to find that they don’t actually mean anything to her.

Another reset takes place. She picks up her books, balances the laptop on one arm and moves to the library, converted from the smallest bedroom. Setting reset and restored; she works on for another seventeen minutes before starting a new reset: this time the work is mostly done, she’s all finished with it and feels like today she has proved something to herself.

Resets herself: changes clothes, swaps them for something warmer and heavier – the temperature is dipping and that itself is another form of a reset that she’s seeing happen. This one she can’t control, so she works with it and keeps a record of it in a new journal.

Tracking change and reset becomes an obsession, so she carries a journal and phone with her every day so she can monitor even the most minute of changes.

New theory: that she’s not created any kind of new theory. One day she tells someone about it, waxes philosophical and they’re not interested. It’s hardly an original thought, he tells her sniffily, haven’t you ever heard the analogy of time being treated as money which is deposited in a bank account every night and runs out at midnight?

She has.

Proof: She tests it out on others, and none of them are impressed. Instead of feeling like she’s come up with something interesting to think about, she leaves her conversations feeling like she’s somewhat out of place. (Sometimes, surrounded by people who make intelligent discourse a habit, she does feel out of place.)

Now, she makes a point of collecting words and thoughts, borrows them all from others and tries to spin them to be something she understands, relates to, keeps in her pocket for a rainy day. (They’re not, but she never mentions this and no-one ever guesses it)

Side note: she erases all her notes, burns the written form of her essay and deletes all the files from her hard drive. It’s too embarrassing a theory to keep around, especially the time when another girl comments that her brand of pseudo-philosophy is unoriginal, derivative, tedious.

It becomes common practice for her to study, borrow thick tomes from the library and read one a week, pile up Serious Fiction to read on the bus and is always at least a week behind her return dates with the library. The librarian frowns at her when she sheepishly whispers a request for a renewal, yes the seventh time this month, but does it anyway. Saves her a bit of money on late fees.

Conclusion: She tracks her changes one day, looks at how things have changed in between this time last year and today. Calls it a total reset, because now she knows a lot more than she used to and has forgotten just a bit more than she probably knows.

Amendment to conclusion: she has come up with something valid. She no longer has the piles of notes and essays handy, but she gets it now. Time resets life for everyone, not just her half-baked theory.

She finds her old journal, stuffed into the back of a desk drawer, and flips through, coughing at the dust the pages stir up. The notes are still here, intact, it was the one thing she couldn’t bear to destroy when she went destructive on all her work.

Pausing in her reading, she rips the pages. They’re a little dryer for wear, no doubt the result of heavy dehumidifier use, and they tear easily. Each page falls easily from the staples, tears into a dozen jagged scraps and she feeds them into a fireplace where they light up easily.

In her reading one day she comes across a new theory, one that has been placed into the world by someone with a lot more study than she has ever done, and she peruses it intently. Focuses on it, absorbs it into her fingertips until she recites it verbatim as a trick. All the long words are so impressive, aren’t they?

Final reset: time to go out and chase this new theory.

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