Running Out of Time


I stared into the green light not unlike Gatsby at the end of his hollow dock, wishing for more.

That progression of green always suggesting a step forward, maybe running in the damp grass, stains later to be found on my autumn jeans which I would always outgrow by the time summer rolled around.

We would cut them into shorts just above the grass-stained knees and they would unravel like wily roots. 

Outgrowing the green, moving on to more promising things.

I used to trick my brother into eating the little limes they would have in water glasses at fancy restaurants or low-budget buffets until he grew old enough to know better. 
We had a tiny green caterpillar in a jar that metamorphosed before my eyes, the same way those eyes would gain their green sparks in the sunlight. 

I outgrew my neon knee socks, and the leaves on the roses would never last a week. I came to the conclusion that time really hates the color green.

It plucks its fourth clover and throws it over its shoulder so that you're running out of luck as quickly as you run out of patience, 
as quickly as you ran on the damp grass as a child before it turned brown in the winter.
But eventually the stop lights turned red, and so did the air.

And I can't even remember that calmness I felt before I knew the world,
like the freshness of mint and the way your tongue feels in the cold air after chewing gum.

I hadn't felt that way in a long time, until tonight when I found myself running out of time.
I was standing frozen, clutching the cool of the barricade, as my mind was escaping itself.
Looking at that green light on the stage and hearing the music and imagining myself sprinting down the middle of the road through all those green lights that I hoped would never change.

I was tricking the world.
I was running out of time and onto the damp grass from when I still had luck and no one warned me against it, when I still had my frayed shorts and my roots stuck so deep in the ground that I couldn't be swayed to settle for what time gave me.
I saw this green glow as a beckoning.
The man in the white suit belted from the piano, a tear escaping his body as my mind was escaping mine.
For two whole minutes, he sang "I can do better than this. I can do better than this." 
The original song didn't go on this long. I knew it didn't, but he knew what had to be said.
I was all too familiar with the phrase, even if it had only ever existed in my subconscious, but it took me up to this moment to actually believe in it.
They say that with time you forget what it was like to be a younger version of yourself, but in this atmosphere, I remembered.
The whole crowd was in a trance, hands up like a gospel choir, enriched in envy for this hypothetical we all wanted to become true:
that we can do better than this.
That I can do better than this place that I’m living in now, this in-between place of waiting for the world.
For a minute, I forgot about time and I forgot about luck.
I was too busy staring at my green light across the water.

I'd like to imagine that the man in white looked at me here, like he was giving me the message personally. 
The truth is I don't know.
I was too busy racing through the street lights in my mind to notice, running out of time.
Running out of time and into that progression of green.
Running out of time and onto more promising things 
So that maybe 
Eventually
I will become so invincible that the light will never turn red again.




By Amanda Pendley

1 comment

  1. The words seem to go on endlessly, and I wouldn't mind reading this forever. Love it!

    ReplyDelete