Just Like The Speeding Heart
by Osahon Ize-Iyamu
It’s seven A.M. and you’re making akara and tea, just for yourself and not for the two of us. You ask if it’s time, and it is, but I won’t tell you that. Let you be silent and make your tea and not speak. Let you be as you are—unhearing as ever, keeping this energy as I keep this information from you. Mama—Let you be blissful in ignorance, and let’s keep the silence of the morning as a beautiful thing, a hallowed memory.
Let this be true.
I have clockwork in my fingers, my toes, and in my head, like root systems growing in me. I know hidden and explicit time, and the beats of three turning clock hands that make my heart. I grow with a weight inside me, for having clocks growing in me. I grow to be perceived with confusion—to be something you hate, then something you use. I grow as a person, but you raise me as a household item, Mama—to say when the world is fleeting and when the world is still. To tell you when to go and when to stay. I grow to be nothing but the parts of what I am—to read the hour, the minute, the second.
I grow in limitations.
Today, Mama, you will not make it to Heraldous. Everything will fly away and leave you, because I am your watch that doesn’t want to tell. I am your daughter who now keeps silent, after all the shouting, asking, pleading for you to listen to me. I am your machine, your limitation—and if I malfunction, will you break me?
If I stop, will I be okay?
“Am I to go now, Time?” you say in my direction, with desperation in your voice. My name isn’t Time, but you’ve found what you want to call me and let it stick. And let it grow.
“Not yet,” I say, standing still. Standing firm. Heraldous is a place marked by hidden time—the time I know in my heart—that goes away as we speak. You would go to Heraldous and receive blessings like grains of salt. You would enter the golden city-scape and fight others for miracles encased in glass beads that fall from the sky.
You want to come back from that glorious place with wishes you can spread out on your bed. I know you want another child—children who’ll grow in experience and not in the hours that pass them, who won’t know at a young age that everything is fleeting, and nothing lasts. And nothing stays. So your time must go away.
You want a blessing, Mama, but what am I?
“It must be time already,” you ask, getting fidgety.
“Not yet.” I say, the anger ticking in my throat. “You have to be there at the exact hour. Let’s not miss our blessings because of impatience.”
“I’m so nervous,” you say, pacing. “Have you ever been this nervous?”
And—it takes me minuteSecondHour—forever and ever— to realize that you are talking to me. Not at me. Not through me.
You are talking to me.
There reached a point where you gave up on me. When you told our family members that I just would not do, when you stopped fighting for me. When you looked, and saw only an object. It was then you began seeking Heraldous. So, I began to curse you.
I cursed: Let you grow lost and depressed. Let you grow hollow, stagnant, to not be who you are, but what you are, to be used and destroyed. Let you grow scattered and pained and forgotten. Let you grow troubled and haunted. May you never find an alternative to me. May you never find what you are looking for.
Let this be true.
I have to hear it again. I can’t believe you are talking to me. Each time the words play back in my memory—you addressing me—my pain lifts, cracks, and joy fills me. It washes over like a rising tide, too much too great and marvelous to behold. A smile greases the oil on my gears, and I can feel softness again. I can feel the love and warmth I have for you, Mama: that you remembered me. That you haven’t forgotten me.
I start to answer—I’m too eager to talk, and there is so much we have to catch up on. “Perhaps that time when—“
“Is it time now?” You interrupt me. You speak past me, through me.
And then I am jilted. I stop ticking. The web of pain returns. You have never wanted me. You don’t care about me. I am not what you’re looking for.
I sigh though a cracked voice, and tears brim in my eyes. “It’s time, Mama—blessings await.”
You kiss my cheek in joy before running out, but it feels hollow, like how one might kiss a table. The door slams behind you. You leave me alone, in more ways than one. You leave me broken.
But I won’t feel bitter. I won’t feel anger, pain or desperation. I only feel sadness constructed of hopelessness and desperation, that leaves me ticking slowly with ache. I’m done with rage. I cannot curse again. So, I wish: Let you go find what you want, and go past me and through me. Let you grow to be better, and come back stronger, and come back with more love.
But I cannot wait forever. Not when your love is not for me.
You’re not looking for me, not my humanity and my growth, not my spirit and my clockwork heart. You’ve always wanted a different thing. It hurts to realize, that you don’t care about me, that you don’t notice me, but I have to accept it. I have to move past your love. Your need. Your attention. I have to find my own.
I open the door of the house and take my first breath outside in what might be years. I don’t know what miracles lie at the end of the world for a clockwork girl like me, because my life is measured in endless possibilities. I will do like the time inside of me, and speed away—without you realizing.
About the Author
Osahon Ize-Iyamu is a Nigerian writer of speculative fiction. He is a graduate of the Alpha Writers Workshop and has work published (or forthcoming) in Strange Horizons, The Dark, and Clarkesworld. You can find him online @osahon4545
About the Narrator
About the Artist
Alexis is a multiclass disaster-human living with her husband in Cincinnati. When she isn’t prepping art for Cast of Wonders, designing pins for pin-y.com, or yelling about TV into a mic for Bald Move, she dabbles in a revolving menu of hobbies and art projects. To list them all would be sheer madness. Like any good bisexual, she has a lot of jackets. You can find her on Twitter @alexisonpaper.