Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Modern Alice By Claire L

you could swear the clock is ticking backwards. every time you look up from your test, you see the second hand hover a moment, suspended infinitely in space, and then drop back to its original position, pushed by some unseen force (gravity, the test in front of you reminds you. it’s gravity).

you glance back down at the test on your desk.

you glance back up at the clock on the wall.

(nothing has changed. the clock ticks backwards. the test stays silent.)

you think about what you had for breakfast that morning. a mouthful of ‘anxiety’ and a swallow of ‘stress’ and wash it all down with two tablets prescribed to you by the doctor (“for the anxiety and the stress” she said, and smiled). not food for thought, you think. funny how you’re still thinking.

you think about who you talked to before the test. your best friend (best because you’ve known her since you were two, and because she comes to all your birthday parties, and because she didn’t tell heather lawson about when you got drunk at christmas and kissed heather lawson’s brother). the teacher (who says he thinks you’ll pass “if you just believe in yourself”, and you smile, and think he’s talking backwards). heather lawson (who you didn’t so much talk to as snarl at, eyes blazing, while her bronzer glittered like war paint and her friends cackled like hyenas).

then it was five, four, three, two, one, pick up your pens and start! writing! stand to attention, soldier! straight back, feet wide, nice bright smiles- no, that’s the school photo.

the clock is ticking now, but you think that maybe (and it’s scandalous, a physics test sat in front of you, explaining the very principals of time and movement) time isn’t any more real than your feelings are. it’s not so revolutionary, but this act of minor rebellion satisfies you. pathetic.

you think about the christmas party. you think about the sickening-sweet-liquor-smooth-cherry-red taste of alcohol slipping down your throat. you think about how everything seemed brighter, how the music had new meaning when you couldn’t hear coherently. (you think about how time ticked backwards then, too, into the early hours of the morning).

you think about the girl who was crying in the bathroom. how she sprawled, catlike, over the sink, drummed her glitter nails on the tap, which drip-drip-dripped. how the mirror was cracked behind her. her eyes were so pink, rubbed raw from sobbing. (you think about how guilty you felt, how it was to not be able to help). you think about washing your hands, looking at her from the corner of your eye. you think about how she grabbed you, pulled you towards her, pressed her lips to yours and left you reeling.

vive la revolution. funny how much defiance is in just one kiss.

you slam your hand on the desk and rise to your feet.

see more submissions for the Tell A Tale in 500 Words click here