“If I only had more time,” I say to my keyboard. The clock whispers “You do have more time.”
I look at it, see the big hand and the little hand. They read 3:36, and have for more than a year. I haven’t replaced the batteries.
“It’s you that has no time,” I said.
“I have all the time in the world,” the clock replied.
On the big computer that sits behind the laptop I type on, a photo of ragged mountains floats in, reminding me that human time is different than mountain time. One day, that mountain won’t look as jagged. It’ll be more sloping. Gentler. As we all are in time, I suppose. Our moments erode us.
I wait for the photos to cycle through again to take a picture of the mountain. The clock on the wall laughs. “There’s your time,” it says.
“If I had more money, I’d buy a house with a bigger backyard,” I say to my fence. The Gucci watch with dead batteries sitting in my bathroom drawer chimes in. “You do have more money,” it hollers down the stairs.
I think about how much I loved that watch – purchased as a birthday gift for myself years ago. I should sell it on eBay. I haven’t worn it in forever.
“If I spent more time on his spelling words with him, he wouldn’t struggle so much,” I say to myself as I watch my little boy go from saying that “stove” is just like “steve” in Minecraft to not knowing how to spell “stove” because I asked him how to spell it.
I wonder about homework and studying and how much to push and how much to recede. I promise him a reward of his choice if he just finishes. I only lose my cool once, which is once too often considering that we’ve been at these words for hours this week and what the f*ck does it matter if he knows how to spell “stove” for Friday’s test or next year or never?
Spell check will wrongly auto-correct him even when he spells something right anyway, the way that it does for me.
“Let’s just finish the words and then we can play baseball,” I say.
“Can we mine ore instead?”
“Um.” I said. “What do you mean?”
“Well, we’ll need safety gear,” he says.
I breathe. I don’t groan but he knows that the groan sits below my tongue and that breaths in are the only thing taming it, keeping it down. He always knows.
I see him slump while knowing. He thinks, hopes, and asks “We don’t have safety gear?”
“Not really,” I said. I watched him further deflate and thought about wanting more time and about how I already miss littler-boy him. “But we have sunglasses, and maybe they can be our safety gear. So tell me what you’re thinking,” I replied.
“We can mine our ore,” he says. “See what’s inside.”
We finish his spelling words and take our sunglasses outside along with a hammer and his found “ore.” He crouches down on the sidewalk, puts on his sunglasses which are safety gear enough, places his ore down and smashes it with a hammer. Nothing happens, and I’m glad, thinking about driving to the emergency room, his cheek bleeding because a chunk of garden rock flew into his face. Them asking “So let me get this straight. You let him smash a rock with a hammer on your sidewalk?”
I wonder about my reply and then wonder whether he’s young enough that he won’t scar before remembering the scar on his chin that he got when he was three. That night, I wanted more time, too, and we stayed at the beach until dark. Washing the sand from our bodies in the outdoor showers on a wooden deck past his bedtime… Him, overly excited, wet, slippery, jumping to catch the drops of water under the blooming stars. And then, blood everywhere, and the decision to make a trip to CVS because it was 9pm and we were at the beach with no clue how close or how far Urgent Care was.
The scar is just under his chin. He has to look up for me to see it although I often remember it even when his face is not next to mine.
“At least we’re wearing sunglasses,” I think. I wonder whether smashing a garden rock that he thinks is ore will be disappointing and wish he’d chosen to play baseball at the park instead. I look at my phone, and realize it’s after 6pm. Guess we’ll have eggs for dinner.
Ready to tell him that we’re out of time while preparing myself for his disappointment, he brings the hammer down, again, and again. The rock breaks.
“Look! I did it, and there are crystals inside!”
I take a moment, squat down, and realize he’s right. There really are crystals inside.
We head inside, put his crystals and ore into a bowl and I take the eggs out of the fridge. I remember that the last three nights, my son and I have fallen asleep laughing together.
My “uh” has grown with me and found giggling in the covers.
The clock near my desk is silent while the butter melts in the pan and my little boy sifts through his crystals and ore. Dinner is almost ready, homework is done enough, and we have all the time in the world, at least for this moment.