The Pendulum of Time

Time won’t quicken nor slow down for anyone, stop anticipating the indeterminate wait.

It was Thursday evening at 10 o’clock and my stomach was in excruciating pain from the two bowls of yogurt and kiwi I had gulped down for dessert. I would only have committed to one bowl but I’m a dare-devil. My braveness had to be proved to the other girl boarders at my assigned table. I wasn’t another Grade Eight ‘baby’.

Wrong decision, Elly.

Cradling my stomach to numb the pain, my warm feet met the grainy blue carpet as I tiptoed silently down the ‘Gill Wing’ hallway.

“And just where in the world do you think you’re going, Miss Elly-Grace?”

It was the boarding mistress, Miss McKenzie. Her silhouette stood out against the faded walls, a giant monster ready to devour me whole. I immediately pivoted on my heels and walked briskly back in the opposite direction. It was too late, she was no fool. My nighttime circuit, now a regular routine, had been discovered at last. Turning my head I began to tell her my situation. Her response was bitter, “Go back to bed. Sickness is for the weak!”

I waddled back to my prison cell of a room, clutching my stomach and counting down the days until a weekend away at grandmas.

Oh how I longed to be under the care of my grandma once more. In this instance, Mamas, as I called her, would nurture me with pills, hot water bottles and meaningful prayers. Although, I wouldn’t be sick in the first place at Mamas because she would cook my favourite Corn Beef spaghetti, rather than yesterday’s leftovers the boarding kitchen staff kept dishing up. But I still had to survive 24 more hours until the ideal of that divine dream became, at last, a reality.

Screeeech-beeeeep. “Good morning, girls! 6:30 on Friday morning. It’s time to get up, shake a leg, and be in the breakfast hall by seven o’clock sharp.”

The repetitive sound of another jail keeper’s voice delivered the routine start to each day. A monotonous parrot or broken record player would have performed a sweeter symphony than our daily 6:30 lecture.

Nine more hours until my escape!

Quarter of an hour into seventh period. The air was dense and stale in the outdated Ancient History classroom. A sea of scrunched faces and frustrated moans hunched diligently over dozens of scratching pens; the results of todays ‘surprise’ essay. The four walls were stained a bland uniform grey that should have been struck from the colour palette long ago. Tick-tock-tick. My OCD raged at that unvarying sound. Mamas would always hide the kitchen clock whenever I visited her because she knew my sleeping patterns were interrupted by its continual repetitive beat.

Six more minutes. Come on, Elly. You can do this.

“Psst,hey Ell! Are you heading to your Grandma’s again this weekend?”my friend Greer mentioned unenthusiastically from behind her test paper.

“Surely am! Can’t stand being in this place!”I murmured back, a blend of excitement and sarcasm running through my vocal cords.

Ding-dong-ring. The noise of my escape rung loudly like groupies screeching at a summer music festival. Now I could flee from my dreary week, spending two days away from the brick lined hallways and inmate names plastered on prison doors.

I took off, full throttle, pushing ahead of the boarders with their white hats and navy bags, like a ferocious bull chasing after the opulent red cloth.

Mamas embraced me with a comforting hug and her delighted smile in the car park before whisking me away from my weeklong penitentiary.

As we exit the premises, a fearful thought disrupts my euphoria.

In less than 48 hours I’ll have to return.

“Mamas, can you take me back a little later on Sunday…?”My voice quivered as I spoke.“Or I could miss Monday and…”my voice trailed off.

Mamas responded in a demeanour too placid for my liking “Oh love, I wish I could. Let’s just try to enjoy the weekend together, all right?”

How could she expect me to appreciate these two days when the dread of next week felt like pieces of glass lodged in my throat?

On Friday night, Mamas took me on a spontaneous trip to the ‘pictures’to see the latest chick flick. Saturday went like a flash as it always did. The majority of Sunday was spent in the heart of God, before feasting on delicious Corn Beef spaghetti.

However, even Mamas’sumptuous cooking and limited rules couldn’t completely replace the sad frown my face wore. The fear of those endlessly repetitious weeks always mirrored my attitude towards every day. As soon as I had a chance to think, my mind immediately returned to the dread with which I saw my life as a boarding student.

Years later, as I reflect, I realise how unnecessary that burden of apprehension was to carry. At the time, I had become so engrossed with the future that my mind always drifted away from the here-and-now. I was rarely ‘in the moment,’but always looking ahead. By dreading the small things, like my return to school, I often missed out on the timely moments with Mamas.

Like a dish of goodness we must learn to savour the time of each day. No ticking of a clock or urgent pleads when running late will ever change the speed of time. The ‘idea’ of time will always remain the same. Through the mundanity of school or chaos at work, I have learnt not to let time control my life.

We all need time to pause and reflect. Each passing hour, month or season is not a one hundred metre sprint, but an endurable cross-country race. Every moment of time through life is what shapes and takes us into our destiny.

Time won’t quicken nor slow down for anyone, stop anticipating the indeterminate wait.

copyright: | June 2014



  1. I think we all get tied up in thoughts of the future and forget to embrace the present. I believe those who are wise are able to recognize that tendency and work on living in the moment. Great work!

  2. This is lovely. The imagery you paint is so vivid, and I love the way you shed light on her mental conversation too. Keep up the wonderful writing!

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