“… I IS THIS hearers wounded-wonder like stand them makes and
Stars wandering the conjures sorrow of phrase Whose. . .”_
He blew smoke through the cigarette and it grew longer.
He glanced at the clock and realized that its hands were moving
The clock told him it was 10:33, going on 10:32 in the P. M.
Then came the thing like despair, for he knew there was not a thing he
Could do about it. He was trapped, moving in reverse through the sequence of
Actions past. Somehow, he had missed the warning.
Usually, there was a prism-effect, a flash of pink static, a
Drowsiness, then a moment of heightened perception…
He turned the pages, from left to right, his eyes retracing their path
Back along the lines.
_”?emphasis an such bears grief whose he is What”_
Helpless, there behind his eyes, he watched his body perform.
The cigarette had reached its full length.
He clicked on the lighter,
Which sucked away its glowing point, and then he shook the cigarette back
Into the pack.
He yawned in reverse: first an exhalation, then an inhalation.
It wasn’t real – the doctor had told him. It was grief and epilepsy,
Meeting to form an unusual syndrome.
He’d already had the seizure. The dialantin wasn’t helping. This was a
Post-traumatic locomotor hallucination, elicited by anxiety, precipitated by
But he did not believe it, could not believe it – not after twenty
Minutes had gone by, in the other direction – not after he had placed the
Book upon the reading stand, stood, walked backward across the room to his
Closet, hung up his robe, redressed himself in the same shirts and slacks he
Had worn all day, backed over to the bar and regurgitated a Martini, sip by
Cooling sip, until the glass was filled to the brim and not a drop spilled.
There was an impending taste of olive, and then everything was changed
The second-hand was sweeping around his wristwatch in the proper
The time was 10:07.
He felt free to move as he wished.
He redrank his Martini.
Now, if he would be true to the pattern, he would change into his robe
And try to read. Instead, he mixed another drink.
Now the sequence would not occur.
Now the things would not happen as he thought they had happened, and
Now everything was different.
All of which went to prove it had all been an hallucination.
Even the notion that it had taken twenty-six minutes each way was an
Nothing had happened.
…Shouldn’t be drinking, he decided. It might bring on a seizure.
Crazy, though, the whole thing…
Remembering, he drank.
In the morning he skipped breakfast, as usual, noted that it would soon
Stop being morning, took two aspirins, a lukewarm shower, a cup of coffee,
And a walk.
The park, the fountain, the children with their boats, the grass, the
Pond, he hated them; and the morning, and the sunlight, and the blue moats
Around the towering clouds.
Hating, he sat there. And remembering.
If he was on the verge of a crackup, he decided, then the thing he
Wanted most was to plunge ahead into it, not to totter halfway out, halfway
He remembered why.
But it was clear, so clear, the morning, and everything crisp and
Distinct and burning with the green fires of spring, there in the sign of
The Ram, April.