Franklin got home at 8:30. There was snow on the driveway, and footsteps leading to the front door. Someone had crammed a complimentary newspaper and a bunch of flyers in his mailbox. He left them there.
Inside, he went to his office and sat in front of the computer screen.
‘Ink-Made Lover Affairs’, he wrote, the title to his novel. The first scene was of a calm December day and the conversation in an office that would define the destiny of the protagonist (Fred) as he headed inevitably to words lost in love, lost in time, just lost. This was the moment of Fred’s firing.
Franklin found himself upstairs, in Clara’s study, leafing through her photo albums. An entire shelf was filled with them, another stacked with hard drives from the time when Clara had decided to go digital. “Fred will need a love interest. A mature woman, a widower. A skier. A philanthropist. A mother.” On a piece of scrap, he wrote, ‘pink and purple hair’, and tucked the note into his pocket.
Franklin was in front of the computer screen. A paragraph stared back at him. He had a glass of scotch in his hand.
Franklin was in the snow in his socks.
Franklin was under the sink with a wrench.
Franklin was in the garage, surrounded by tires.
At midnight, Franklin was in front of the computer screen, reading:
‘I waited patiently for time. Meanwhile, time didn’t care about me. Didn’t care how I felt or what I had to do in the meanwhile. Well, it’s finally time. Seventy one years old and without a thing to do, and it’s finally time. I waited. I waited so faithfully for the right moment to write these words, to get out the ideas that walked with me on all those snowy, rainy, sunny days, along all those rocky, fencepost routes. But now they tell me I’m sick. That the ideas are parting. That I’m lost and going to get worse. Is this what I waited for? To be too late? Is that what I have to think on, that I should have started when I had the chance?’
Franklin thought on his day, the improbability of it. And he started to write. He wrote until he was in impossible places talking to impossible people, for this was what he had left, and this was who he was. “Might be going crazy,” he said, “but not wasting any more time. Bring it on. Bring me the madness and I’ll write it out. I’ll take a bucket of dementia, if you please, and spill it on this keyboard if that’s all I have left. Because it’s time, you see. It’s time.” The story spun around trolls and children and a great destructive lizard that came out of no where to plow through a city covered in winter. But it was also about heroes with purple and pink hair, who skated the canals carrying messages to freedom fighters made of snow and ice.
And when morning came, he was still there, typing away – typing up the very madness that he had been told would stop his story. Meanwhile, time moved on, slowly – quietly – in every pore of his body, and ours too, never asking us what dreams we struggle to make our own or allow to be held off until the right moment – as though there is such a thing as the right moment. Time is a troll under a bridge, a story tells; it is a collection of children reaching for stars. Time is an answer and a master, and in the end, whether we know it or not, it is all that we have.