Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time: it keeps on ticking

Today at Summer Writing Camp, our Sacred Writing Time prompt was really just one word:


Here is what I wrote:

Cecilia Braddock had the great misfortune of being the only girl in the history of time for whom it ran backward. She looked right; it wasn't that obvious at first.
She was born a mewling infant with the customary downy hair and angry skin and tight-fisted wailing, but even the myopic nurse who administered Cecilia's first dose of HIV commented, squinting from frantic infant to concerned mother. "This one's got wise eyes, missus," she said, passing Cecilia to those desperate arms. But Maggie couldn't think about Cecilia's eyes--wise or not--not when the angry spot on her baby's wrinkled thigh was already swelling in protest.
Cecilia, though, she heard the nurse and agreed heartily, whilst also deploring the idea that someone could be so observant and yet so cruel. That needle, glittering cold, inserted so callously into the skin pinched between thumb and forefinger, injecting hot and pain into a leg that had just hours before recovered from the trauma of birth.
While Maggie cradled her and cooed to her, then dropped into a doze, her arms still clutching the becalmed Cecilia, the baby looked about the room. Without any tutelage, she could read. Not just the directions on the IV bag printed in English, but also Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, and Arabic.
She had no idea, then, how anomalous she was. Nor would she likely have cared. The window revealed a sky gray with smog and a few pigeons struggling for purchase on the thin limestone lip of the building across the street. Which had been built in 1926, she knew, designed by Abraham Parker, with eighteen floors and two elevators, both of which were still operational--an uncommon preservation in this city that preferred new to old always.
Cecilia didn't consider how she knew language or architecture. She just accepted it, like she had the first bright lights, the smothering cold, the formula in a bottle--sustenance oral instead of umbilical.
Only Cecilia's father seemed to understand her. He arrived as dusk settled over the city, his tie askew and his hair rumpled. He had been the other man on the outskirts of her birth, Cecilia realized, the one who had nodded, glanced at his watch, and left before she had drawn her fourth breath.
"Father," she said when he walked into the room, and he looked up, startled, dropping his jacket on the floor. Blinking, Devon unfolded his glasses and hooked them around his ears.
"Cecilia," he asked, "did you speak?"
Maggie was snoring softly, so Cecilia had to raise her voice. "Why didn't you stay?" Cecilia asked, recognizing the querulous in her tone and despising it.
Carefully, carefully, Devon lifted Cecilia from Maggie's arms and carried her to a chair near the window. He didn't answer her question. "Who are you?" he asked, looking hard into her eyes.
"I'm your child."
"Yes--but--" Devon's brow wrinkled.
"Babies don't usually talk," Cecilia supplied.
"How long have you--"
"Since I was born, I know for certain. But there are a few flashes I recall from the darkness before. It is possible I began to be cognizant in utero, but it was so dark, so muffled."
Devon shook his head, shock darkening his eyes as belief settled in. "I've never heard of anything like this," he said. "Not any time, anywhere. I wonder--"
Cecilia wondered if her father ever completed what he began.

1 comment:

my2fish said...

wasn't there a movie with Brad Pitt sort of like that?