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02/01 Direct Link
Nearly twelve years ago. Twelve years. My now-teenage boys were not even two and four then. Time is so slippery, so tricky.

It seems so long ago, yet I twist that around: as recently as twelve years ago, I was still a writer. I used to be a writer. What happened? What am I now? Where am I now? Where am I going?

I used to be an artist. I used to be creative. I used to have dreams, goals, fire inside. My self evaporated. I don't know when, don't know how... how do I get it all back?
02/02 Direct Link

twist it tight
pull it taut
force it out
every drop
lean on them
one by one
every glimmer
every song 
don't pause
don't stop
don't slip
one by one
each invisible drip
collect them all
hold them tight
pad this empty heart
fill the void
find the warmth inside
love and blood
tender-kissed
pain
joy
rage-scarred
moments chipped
savor
protect
remember
perfect
gathered memories
nothing left
time is greedy
hungry
needy
reach for awareness 
breathe life deep
lift your heart
open within
inhale the stars
with each beat we begin
this is love
love is this

02/03 Direct Link
She isn't sure what to think. The moon doesn't shine as brightly through the window; the air is too thick, too hot. The ringing in her ears pulses lower-- dull, but strong and deep. No. This isn't right at all. 

"What's happening? What is this place?" Her question bounces around the dark room, suggesting that the gray walls might be further apart than they appear.

Will there be an answer? She doesn't really expect one, but her need to know doesn't fade like the echo. "What is this place? How did I get here?"

"No. This is all wrong."
02/04 Direct Link
There are only two ways to go about this: the wrong way, and the right way. 

One way is easy, while the other requires more discipline and dedication. One way leads to guilt and other uncomfortable feelings like shame and worthlessness. The other way lends itself to a sense of accomplishment and achievement. 

So why, oh why, is it so hard to simply remember to take the right way from the very beginning? The path isn't full of twists and turns-- it's easy to see. Hell, it's even easy to follow.

My stumbling stone? I am consistently inconsistent.
02/05 Direct Link
No one noticed, at first. When the universe splintered, there was no cosmic bang, no sudden shift in gravity or consciousness. It was undetectable, physically, and a slow burn, cognitively.

As our collective awareness began to register the dissonant changes, it was easy to place the blame on a bad week. When it  stretched into multiple weeks, then months of chaos and unrecognizable new reality, we finally began to connect the dots. This shaky, off-kilter world slipped into a devolved, fractured echo of its former self and there's nothing we can do about it.

Is hope naive?

 
02/06 Direct Link
The flagstone wasn't the biggest of the bunch, though it was large enough to be unwieldy. He lifted one edge slowly, wrapping thick fingers around to secure as much of the reddish-orange rock as possible.

Hands, arms, and shoulders tightened, legs bent... and with a sudden lifting surge, he flipped the flagstone upside down.

Disappointment.

Nothing but unmarked rock. Dirt. No scratches, no carvings-- no paint or ink to show that this was, indeed, the stone he'd been searching for.

He straightened his back, inhaling while turning to survey the surrounding field of flagstones. Failure isn't ever the last step.
02/07 Direct Link
Expectations are nothing but disappointments wrapped up in tiny, exquisite, little gift boxes. They look fun, benign, and maybe even a bit exciting. 

Then... they explode, and you're left with a gaping hole where shiny hope used to live. Oh, and the mess-- what an unholy mess-- now has to be cleaned up and put back together so life can continue.

Don't set yourself up for the fall! Let go of expectation! Instead, be ready to roll with whatever happens, and make the best of every situation. Flexibility might just be the ultimate key to happiness. Are you game?
02/08 Direct Link
Change is unsettling. When you know it's coming, waiting is the hardest part. That anxiety of knowing something scary is around the corner, but not having any idea when it will jump out to claw at your throat?  That is Change. Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad. But every breath catches just a little, and the shadows seem a slightly more suspicious. Are they following me? When did the light start twitching like that?

It's useless. Pushing it away, trying not to think about it. It's like the tide: endless persistence. Change is the one guarantee in life.
02/09 Direct Link
There would be no answer. She knew that much. After taking a moment to breathe and collect her thoughts, it only made sense to look around. The moonlight from the window gave the room an otherworldly pallor, and the shadows obscured any details that might have otherwise been visible. This only meant she had to slow down, so that her fingers would see what her eyes could not. 

She felt the round medallion before she saw it; half-hidden under the bench, it was barely visible. The weight was right, and the top side was polished smooth with age.
02/10 Direct Link
The bottom of the medallion was carved, as expected, though she could not feel nor see any of the markings. What had happened? Was it a malfunction? Had she entered the coordinates inaccurately? She held the round, stone-like piece up to the window in hopes of seeing something that would help her understand. 

There were rumors of previously planned slips that hadn't ever been cleared; could this prove it was possible? Did settings not degrade on their own after months, years, decades? 

How long til daylight would help her see the medallion's origins? Could she even sleep?
02/11 Direct Link
The bench was stiff and too narrow, but it didn't take long for her to tumble into that off-kilter world of dreams that might or might not be tinged with reality. Upon waking in panic mode, only a handful of moments passed before she was inspecting the carvings on the underside of the medallion in the too-bright sunlight. 

They were unlike any she'd seen before, thus giving more weight to her suspicions of a long-ago mishap that had left the slip waiting for a connection. But when? She lifted her head to take in her surroundings.
02/12 Direct Link
It must have been quite a long time. This was all too new, too pretty-- the details, nicks,and scratches of age were missing. This room was almost sterile. 

Out the window, the leaves were thick enough to nearly hide any evidence of tree branches; the ground, too, was green and heavily layered with mossy pelts and interwoven plant fronds.

Years and years of history classes, geology lessons, endless legends and stories from ages past could not ever have prepared her for this. The questions leapfrogged one another, each demanding an answer. Where, no, more importantly: when is this?
02/13 Direct Link
She ran her fingers over the smooth top of the medallion and pushed it into her pocket. Regardless of the where and when, she was stuck here until more information could be found. Did her bag even slip with her? Did she have water or food? This could get worse...

There was nothing familiar in the room, so with a deep breath she stepped out into eye-searing sunlight. The carpet-like growth on the ground was spongy, and gave way only slightly under each step. Surely there was water nearby-- this lushness would require huge amounts of water.

 
02/14 Direct Link
The air was humid, which seemed a good sign, yet at the same time made the warmth harder to bear. She set off toward the trees at a good pace, partly in hopes of finding water, but mostly searching for something that would lend context to her whereabouts.

There was no breeze, no movement at all that she could detect. No animals? No insects? What did that even mean?

She walked with intent, eyes open wide, breathing in her surroundings. That's when it appeared, just ahead-- a small building. It looked oddly similar to the one she had just left.
02/15 Direct Link
Brow furrowed, she marched forward. It couldn't be the same building. Then realization hit her, mid-stride. She'd been walking toward the trees, all this time-- yet they stood as far away as before. She hadn't come any closer at all. Lungs burning, legs trembling, she turned in a slow circle, willing her eyes to find the path she'd followed. There was no path, no trail, no evidence that she hadn't been standing in this very spot since the beginning of time. 

She ran to the building- could it possibly be one and the same? The doorknob turned easily.
02/16 Direct Link
She pushed the door open, just a few inches. It was darker inside, and cooler. One foot in, slowly... 

"Hello...?" Too quiet; she spoke again. "Hello?" 

Only silence. She stepped into the all-too-familiar room. It appeared to be identical to the one she woke up in this morning. The window was in the same place, the bench stood in the same spot, with the same pillow perched on top.

Something small under the bench caught her eye. She'd been holding her breath, but a sudden, forceful exhale brought her to the floor. It was a medallion. 
02/17 Direct Link
With her right hand, she reached out for the round object on the floor, but the warmth in her pocket stole her attention. Confused, she reached instead for the medallion that was making her hip uncomfortably hot. She pulled it out without thinking, without gripping the medallion tight enough to avoid dropping it. Landing quite near the other medallion, the two pieces pulled together in an almost magnetic fashion and began to vibrate. A high-pitched hum rose from the trembling medallions as they began to rotate, spinning as a single unit. The temperature rose as the whirling intensified.
02/18 Direct Link
With a pop and a clatter, the spinning became a wobbling, limping motion before settling down to stillness. The two medallions had merged somehow-- they were now one, thicker, single medallion. The curved, smooth top was still quite warm, but curiosity won out over caution. She picked up the larger medallion in order to see the carvings on the underside. Was this the same pattern? She saw similar shapes, without question, but could not confirm that this was, indeed, a combination of the two smaller medallions. She put the warm lump back into her pocket and stood tall. What now?
02/19 Direct Link
From her crouched position on the floor, she looked carefully, slowly, about the room. There had to be something new or changed; this couldn't possibly be the same place she'd slipped into last night. Unless... she'd slipped again, while walking. Without realizing, it though? It hadn't ever happened that way before.

A thump on the door tightened her breath and shoulders. Frozen in place, she watched the doorknob turn. As the door swung open and the room's shadows shifted, her eyes darted to the tall, back-lit figure.

"Well, there you are." The voice was gravelly, but not threatening.
02/20 Direct Link
"I wasn't sure where you'd gone. I found some stones, and checked all of the large ones for carvings... but no luck." The man pulled a crumpled map from his pocket and knelt down to flatten it on the floor beside her. "Are you okay?'

She hadn't said a word yet-- the confusion was too thick to think through. Wide-eyed, she could only look at him. 

"No, really... are you okay? You seem very tense. Anxious." He looked concerned, and gently reached to touch her shoulder.

Her insides screaming, she recoiled, almost falling over backwards in the process. 
02/21 Direct Link
"No! Who are you? Where is this place? When is this?" Her words lurched out all at once, too fast. 

"Woah, woah..." he stood, and stepped carefully away. "You're safe. You don't remember me? I'm Jonah. You told me yesterday to find the carved stones?"

Her chest still tight, she tried to find something familiar in her swirling, twirling mind-- nothing. She'd never seen this man before. What was he talking about? "I don't know you. Where is this?" She thrust her finger at the map.

He took another step back; now he was alarmed. "You really don't remember?"
02/22 Direct Link
"I don't remember you, I don't know this place. I don't know when this is or when I'm supposed to be." She leaned forward, hands clawing for the map. 

"Coral. It's okay. You came here last week to find the time leak. Do you want me to take you back home?" His voice was strained, worried. He knelt down to better straighten the map. "See? We're in the Farzah System, seventh planet. This is your map."

None of this sounded familiar. Had she lost her mind? She could not remember anything before finding herself here, alone in the dark.
02/23 Direct Link
"Time leak? Farzah System?" She leaned forward even more, now laying her head down, cheek against the cool floor.

Jonah pulled a fresh water bag from his backpack and opened it, holding it out for Coral to take. "Drink something. I think we need to get you out of here. I think you've been looping or something. Maybe the time leak has done more damage than we thought?"

She propped herself halfway up to accept the water, and drank greedily. Shoving her hand into her pocket, she pulled out the now-larger medallion and held it flat in her palm.
02/24 Direct Link
"Where'd you get that?" Jonah moved in closer, eyes locked on her hand. He reached in; she jerked backwards, sending the water bag to the floor and nearly flinging the medallion across the room.

"Stay back." Her voice was terse, her movements measured. She'd already eyed the distance to the door and the path she'd take to get there before he could stop her. She crouched, alert, ready to move.

His face softened as he lifted his arms, hands up. "It's okay, it's okay. I'll stay back. I've just never seen one like that before. Did you find that here?"
02/25 Direct Link
"Yes. First one, then another. But... they joined together." Does she know him? Does she trust him? Does she trust herself?

He scowled. "What? That doesn't make sense. Are you sure? When did this happen?" He started to move closer, but reconsidered. He flopped onto the small bench, sliding his back against the wall. 

She watched his body start to settle in, and took the opportunity it left wide open. Three full strides, a tight grip on the doorknob, two quick, turning steps: time to run.

Going toward the trees would do no good, she'd learned that earlier.
02/26 Direct Link
With the mass of trees at her back, she raced away, punishing every muscle, every joint, every bone. Her lungs and throat burned, her body screamed -- there was no option but to keep running. 

Until she saw it.

Again. 

The little building.

The same building? Again?

No, not again. Not again. 

She slowed, stumbling, eyes blurred from the dripping sweat. Shaking, she reached for the doorknob (again) and turned it without hesitation. She expected him to be sitting there still. 

Nothing. No one. She knelt immediately, reaching for the medallion in its same old familiar spot.
02/27 Direct Link
It awaited her touch, and began to glow as her fingers lifted it from the floor. The warmth increased in both of her hands, in both medallions, and her grip loosened as the vibrations grew. Too hot to hold, both medallions fell to the floor. She stepped back to watch the whirling dance-- the door hit her in the back as he barged into the room.

"You're here! I didn't..." He stopped short, mouth open, eyes on the glowing, twirling medallions. They'd started to merge already. 

"I told you." There was no satisfaction in her statement. It didn't matter.
02/28 Direct Link
"You did tell me. I looked. I couldn't find the other carvings." He sounded afraid; sheepish.

Her mind was moving too slowly to find meaning in his words. "It can't connect this many slips. The interface can't process this." She said the words, but didn't know what they meant, nor where they came from. 

He slid open a panel on the wall, eyeing the still-glowing medallion as he moved. "Did you look at the carvings? Are there new coordinates?" He flipped the twitching piece upside down, exposing the carved belly.

She punched in the coordinates and pushed enter.