Author: Helena Pantsis

I learnt in the moments I stole when I was sixteen that time piled up, folded in and on top of itself like leaves of an endless, unwilting cabbage. I took seconds from my father, gathering them like crumbs of toast on the plastic table cloth, and minutes from the mailman, who missed our house three times a week anyway.

It was only when hours turned to days and weeks to months and years to decades did my mother noticed that the lines on my face seemed to challenge hers, and the thinning of my hair left me cold and frail.

They took me to doctors against my will, begging for tests to be done, for something to be explained, and diagnosed me with somethings that no one could. I told my parents and the doctors that I wasn’t ill, that I’d simply done it to myself. Still, no one believed me. But I didn’t need them to, I could feel the pounding feet of Time on their way out.

When Time finally visited me alone in my bedroom, at seventeen years old with the body of an eighty-year-old, they looked me over, picking apart the pieces of me I’d let grow loose and grey.

“What are you doing?” Time asked.

By then my gums were raw and dry, and I had to lift my finger, slow and arthritic, to bring them closer in. Time leaned forward, ears piqued.

“Robbing you,” I whispered, harsh and slow.

Swiftly then, I threw my arms around their neck, weighing them down on top of me. Time struggled, arms flailing and pushing back, sinking into me, melting into the waning colour of my sunken chest.

The next morning when my mother came in to check on me, she could barely fathom it. There I was, in the body of a seventeen-year-old, holding the hands of a clock in my own sleeping hands.

They could never explain my miraculous recovery, nor the youthful faces of my parents, nor the way my family lived and lived and lived.