by Noemi Szadeczky-Kardoss

If I had all the time I wanted,
I would write a research paper on the history of roller-coasters,
I would spend hours every day in the library reading ancient Greek myths,
I would take a part-time job where all I had to do
was clean babies after they had come out of their mothers,
wash them and then wrap them in their little blankets.
If I had all that time,
I would never say again to anyone,
“Sorry I don’t have time for you now,”
I would write long emails to my family and friends, no,
I would send them real letters.
If I had all the time I wanted,
I would paint flowers and I would knit Christmas stockings,
I would have lunch every day and I would read you this story now.

The Coldest, Darkest Hour of the Day
One morning, just before sunrise, I was walking home through the forest. Shivering with cold, I wrapped my arms around my body. It didn’t help at all; I could feel the cruel wind penetrate under my skin and into my bones. The light sweater was good as nothing against the freezing air. I quickened my steps but then the wind became louder. The evil song it was whistling in my ears deafened me. It scared me that not only I couldn’t see, but I couldn’t hear either.

I turned my head sideways and the wind’s song stopped. I realized the dead silence scared me even more. I didn’t know who or what was lurking among the trees in the darkness, and I didn’t dare to watch. At last, I turned my eyes towards the sky. The whistling started again. The moon looked at me with an angry face, but I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was chasing me, running after me above the black branches and leaves, and I could swear it was laughing at me.

I don’t know for how long I was running looking upwards, but suddenly something made me look ahead again. From the corner of my eye, I spotted something bright in the forest. I wasn’t frightened any more. What I saw ahead of me was a tree bathing in light. Slowly, I walked closer. The tree was white. I walked even closer, and I could see why. It was covered with snow.

It hadn’t snowed that fall yet. Forgetting about the cold and everything else around me, I let down my arms, and with my mouth open in amazement, I walked around the snowy tree.

“Wow,” I whispered, because I hadn’t seen anything that beautiful in my entire life. My brain was dead; I didn’t think anything about what I saw. It just made me feel better to know that I was the only one on earth who was there to see that magical tree.

The Waterfall in the Room
Later that day, I was sitting in a room with twenty other people. One of them was standing in front of us, talking about something. His voice sounded like a deep murmur coming from the bottom of a well. The sunshine coming through the window hurt my eyes so much my tears started to fall. Suddenly, the desk I was sitting at started to ripple. That surprised me. Having nothing else to do, I was watching the ripples as they slowly rolled down the edge of the desk and continued their way on the carpet, then up the walls. When I looked at the people around me, I saw that there was a curtain of water between us, and they were rippling too.

After that, I went home, and one of my friends asked me if I was high. I said ‘no,’ with an expression on my face that convinced her that I was. But I felt good, I really did. As long as I didn’t have to sit down, I felt alive. I was just cold. So I put on a second sweater, popped some junk food in my mouth, and left again, because I had to go.

The next time I sat down, I started to feel dizzy. My face burned, and I was sweating. Maybe it was too early to put on so many clothes. I wanted go and take an icy shower, but I was not allowed to go anywhere. I was with a different group this time. I knew I was supposed to pay attention to the person speaking to us, and I tried very hard to do that. I tried so hard that I started hearing things he never said. My head drooped and I glanced at the book lying on the desk in front of me. The figure drawn on the cover was dancing happily.

It was night again, and I was alone. The characters on the computer screen turned from black into green and the white background turned pale pink. Blood was pumping in my ears, and my head wanted to explode. I decided to go outside and watch the sunrise.

The Sunrise
I sat down on the wet grass, closed my eyes, and turned my face towards the rising sun. The morning air was refreshing. A black cat walked by. Tired after the night she spent hunting, she was moving slowly and wobbling a little. When the beams of the sun touched her fur, she stopped.

Again, I felt lucky. Who except me would greet the sun in the morning like a cat? I remembered the snowy tree from the previous day. I was sure it had melted since then, not just the snow, but the whole tree. Nobody would ever see the magic I saw.

I went to work and tried to be kind and understanding. My feet wanted to take me somewhere else where I needed to go. People told me my eyes were red and I said I knew. Then I asked them what day it was.

I counted the hours. Twenty-four minus six is eighteen, plus twenty-four is forty-two. I glanced at my watch. Plus eleven is fifty-three. By that evening, it would be over sixty hours. Well, I set up a new record.

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