Time Stood Still
I woke up startled, as I almost fell right off my bed. I have had dreams where I dreamt I fell and then have awakened by nearly falling off my bed, but this time it freaked me out even more, since the fall seemed so real, but then I realized that the feeling was real. I remembered my experience in Gassilo almost instantly. It was so such much to take in, that my mind was simply buzzing constantly with thoughts of life, its meaning, and my meaning, but I had no time to think about all that. I had to get ready for school.
Good thing I had taken a shower the night before, or I would be late for sure, and I always hated being late for school. My teacher, Mrs. Gumble, wasn’t the meanest person in the world, but her biggest pet peeve was people showing up late to her class. I was late at least once a week, usually because I wasn’t able to get ready in time to catch the bus. On these days, I would have to get my brother Jamie to drive me, which he hated to do, because it made him late too. Since Jamie didn’t have a car, I made sure I would be ready in time to catch the bus today.
Another reason I was so determined to be on time was if I showed up late enough times, they would send a letter home, and I could not afford to let that to happen. My father also hates tardiness. I only got a beating once for being late and, since then, I made sure I wasn’t late more than once a week.
Surprisingly, I was at the bus stop early, despite waking up late and being distracted with so many serious questions and thoughts. Good thing, too, because if I had to chase down the bus, I would have no luck. The bus driver was a stickler for that. It seemed every adult in my life was uptight. Except my mom, of course, who was the total opposite, unless my dad was around, and then she would agree to all of his terms.
“Hey Lizzy! Over here, I saved you a spot!” my friend Stacy, the daughter of the doctor, called out to me.
I plopped down in the seat, “Thanks Stacy, appreciate it. This bus is always packed full. Sometimes I have to stand up!”
“Haha. Yeah, tell me about it. I almost had to poke a couple of eyes out to save you the seat, but I figured you would be on the bus, for sure, because of your brother’s accident.”
“Yeah, you heard about that?” I asked surprised. Actually, considering all the gossipers in this town, I really shouldn’t be.
“Oh yeah, from Mr. Sholtz, the guy who owns the candy store downtown. He saw the whole thing.”
“Wow. I didn’t know that. I thought Jamie got into his accident in the country. He told everyone he hit a deer that jumped right in front of the car.”
“Well, your brother probably didn’t want your dad to know the truth, Liz. Mr. Sholtz told me that he ran into the light post right outside of his store. He then saw him call someone on his cell phone and a tow truck showed up right away.”
“Hmm. He told us that his car was fine until he tried to start it the next day. Stacy, I do appreciate you telling me the truth but can you not tell anyone else? My brother has gotten enough punishment to last him a lifetime,” I asked while putting my hand on her leg gently, and looking into her eyes with desperation.
“Sure, no problem, Liz. You know that I am the master of secret-holding,” she smiled softly as she patted my hand.
I smiled back, “Thanks, I appreciate it.” “Now, I have something crazy to tell you,” I said as I jumped into my seat and turned my back to the aisle.
She raised her brow, “Oh really? Do pray tell.”
I wasn’t going to tell her about my dreams or my travel adventures, but I was going to tell her about the breakthrough I made with my family. “You are not going to believe this, but I actually stood up to my father and didn’t get punished!”
“You’re kidding me!?” Stacy exclaimed.
“Nope, I definitely am not,” I responded in the most confidence I had for a long time. I then continued to tell her the details all the way to school. She was so inspired that she told me that if I could do that, then she could finally confess to a boy that she liked him. His name was Damien. This would be extra risky on her part because he is African-American. She and I are not racist but our parents are. They like to deny it, but we can tell by their snide remarks like, “Oh that’s just not right,” after seeing an interracial couple.
“Well, I can just keep it a secret?” She bit her bottom lip, knowing that I didn’t think it was a good idea.
“Stacy…Do you realize how many people in this small town have your father as their doctor?” I gently reminded her.
“I appreciate your concern Liz but nothing can stop me from loving Damien. I’m not going to be scared away just because my parents might find out.” We sat in silence the rest of the way to school. I didn’t want to argue with her.
I thought she was crazy for even daring to love anyone and especially someone who wouldn’t be accepted by her family. There was a good chance Stacy’s crush might be a product of rebellion, rather than love. And really, how can an eleven year old be “in love”? The whole idea was just insane to me, but I left it alone because if it is meant to be, it will be. She has her own lessons to learn, as do I. I just hope she doesn’t learn them the hard way.
Speaking of boys, I do like one in my class. His name is Todd and he is simply a massive distraction. He doesn’t help my constant daydreaming, and imaginative tendencies. It was hard enough for me to concentrate without boys, but he just made it impossible. I never told Stacy about him though, because I didn’t want to be like every other giddy girl our age (even though she was one of those girls). Of course, I didn’t love him or anything: it was more of an energy that pulled my eyes in his direction.
He was taller than most of the boys, and he seemed to have matured early. This is what probably what attracted me to him the most, since his actual appearance was nothing special. He had a slightly crooked and large nose and some pimples but other than that, he had an old-fashioned charm. He was also shy, like me, which made him mysterious. I knew there was more to him than met the eyes, but I was always too frightened to talk to him.
As I was daydreaming about what I would say to him, I walked into our class to take my seat, and I noticed the desks were arranged in a different order than usual. Instead of rows, they made a three quarter square. My teacher loved to rearrange the desks just for kicks I think, and it annoyed most of us. But, today, I was so happy I could give her a great big hug. We had our names on the chairs, and I noticed Todd’s chair was beside mine! At first I was excited, but the excitement quickly turned into panic. I already had a hard time talking to other people in my class but, with him, it was ten times worse. I was definitely more scared of talking to him than I was of talking to Goasila.
I sat down quickly and opened up a book, pretending to read it, waiting for Todd to get there. As I was doing this, I was thinking about Goasila and his dimension and how creepy it looked at first glance. I thought about how proud I was of myself for going there and overcoming that fear. Also, I was impressed with myself for understanding the purpose and workings of Gassilo. ‘If I am so intelligent and brave then why I am so terrified to talk to an eleven year old?’ I asked myself. After I had this epiphany, my anxiety symptoms seemed to fade away.
When Todd came into class, I smiled at him, and then I started laughing hysterically! He looked at me strangely, but then he couldn’t help himself, and he started laughing too! “What.. are.. we laugh..ing.. about?” he asked almost out of breath from laughing so hard.
“I .. am not s...uurre,” I said still laughing. I then took a deep breath in, looked right into his big brown eyes and said, “Hi. My name is Elizabeth, but most of my friends call me Liz or Lizzy. You can call me any of those or none, it’s up to you.”
“I think I like your whole name best. It suits you better. It is more mature, lady-like.” I did not know whether to take this as a compliment or not. I decided to take it as one, since his maturity was what I liked best about him.
I smiled as widely as I could, “Thank you. I will take that as a compliment.”
He blushed and said shyly, “Well, it is.”
Talking to him after that was incredibly easy. We had more in common than I initially thought. It was nice to talk to someone different for a change. I liked Stacy and I trusted her, but talking to Todd was easier, because I could really be myself. He said things that I never heard before. He told me he went to the library often to research different religions. Most people might find this nerdy, but I found it fascinating. I asked him all sorts of things about different belief systems and he always had an answer. During class, we even passed notes. And, at lunch time, we walked to the park to have our lunch there together. We got so caught up in talking, we were almost late coming back to class!
I was learning, more and more, that there are few things in life to be frightened of. In the last few days, I gained confidence and made a new friend. I didn’t realize that a person could learn so much in such a short time. I was grateful to have that honour. I still could not stop thinking about Gassilo, and the things I learned there. I wondered if Goasila would visit me today, like Oochoo had.
It was my last class of the day, gym class. I wasn’t much for sports but it was a good outlet to get out any built up anger I had from home. We were finally moving on to my favourite sport: tackle football. Sometimes I get hurt, but it’s always fun to tackle down your enemies. There is something so primal and barbaric about it that makes it attractive to me. For the first time all day, my mind was clear.
I was running about the field when all of a sudden I hit a wall. Not literally a wall, but something so strong it felt like a wall. I looked up, thinking it must be the strongest and most aggressive girl in our class, Roseanne, but there was nothing in front of me at all! Everyone was staring at me wondering why I fell right to the ground for no reason. They kept yelling at me to keep going, since I almost scored a touchdown but, I couldn’t move! I decided to pull my present out of my pocket and make it into special goggles to see what was in front of me.
As I put the goggles on, a transparent wall of swirling and colliding sunset colours appeared before me. The wisps of sunrays started to circle and the wall soon became a tornado-like shape, rotating slowly. The tunnel then exploded and flashed into shimmering dust. Finally, I could see two yellow eyes glowing in the dust as a flowing figure formed around them. The familiar face greeted me with a big grin.
“What are you doing here Goasila?! I am trying to play a game here you know.”
“Haha. Yes I know, that is what makes it fun.” He said as he spun around.
“Yeah, fun for you, Goasila. Now please let me go forward, I am running out of time.” I urged, stomping my foot.
“You can never run out of time Elizabeth, there is an endless amount of time in the universe you know.”
“Yes yes, I know. But I mean, right now, people are cheering me on to get a touchdown, so we can win the game.” I explained as my body danced in place waiting impatiently.
“And what will that accomplish exactly? That you can win at a footcircle game? That doesn’t mean you can win at life you know.”
“I don’t have time to have a serious conversation with you right now. I will explain later, just please let me go through!”
He sighed, “Oh, alright. But you better be available afterwards to have a discussion with me.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you!” I jumped up with the football in hand, and raced towards the end. Surprisingly, I made it and we won the game! I don’t have any idea how that happened because Goasila took up so much of my time but I did it regardless. I was sitting on the sidelines afterwards, drinking some water, as everyone else rushed back into the school so that they could change. I, on the other hand, wanted to go straight to the bus, so I took all of my stuff to the field. I was thinking of my bright idea when a random thought came to me, ‘What if Goasila had stopped time while he was talking to me, and I just didn’t take the time to notice?’ Well, that can’t be, can it? I wouldn’t have been able to hear my team cheering if time was stopped. I then faintly remembered that the cheering had stopped when I put my goggles on.
“Yes, my dear that is exactly what happened!” Goasila exclaimed. After gaining my composure I replied, “So, are you trying to tell me something then?”
“Well, at first no. I was just having fun with you. But now that you mention it, yes. You cannot consume yourself with the idea of time. Things that are meant to happen will happen, and at the appropriate time, but you must never force things, or feel rushed. When you slow down, you see and learn more. Yes, someone might be mad if you’re late, or if you didn’t win the footcircle ga-“
“Football,” I corrected him.
“What was that?”
“FOOTBALL. That is what the game is called, not footcircle,” I giggled, “Why did you think it was called footcircle?”
“Oh, because when you hit it with your foot, it spins in circles. I thought it might be ball but a footcir- ball does not look like a ball.”
“Yes, that is true, you do have point. So, what were you saying now about time?” I asked impatiently.
“Well, my point is, Elizabeth, that if you worry so much about time, then it will seem to pass quicker. But if you just do what you have to do, you will see that you actually are on time more often than if you worried about it.”
“Are you saying that it is okay to be late?”
“Well, not exactly. You never want to disappoint people, but sometimes people need to be understanding of your circumstances. There are things you can control and things you can’t. And if you tried to do your best, doing what you need to do, and still are late, then it is best the other person has some compassion.”
“You don’t know the people in my life very well. They are not understanding or compassionate.” I stated firmly.
“That may be true, but that has to do with your perception as well. If you believe they are that way and never change, then that will be the case. But if you convince yourself otherwise, things might change. Just give it a thought Elizabeth, only good can come from it. Now let’s get down to business.”
I looked at him curiously, “What business are you talking about?”
“I am talking about the gift-giving business of course. I have something for you, as you might have already guessed.”
“Yes, I was wondering about that.”
Goasila pulled out what looked like a long handkerchief. It was made up of the same colours as Gassilo. “I hope this isn’t a newborn spirit,” I said a little frightened.
“Haha. Of course not, it is something that will be of use to you. It is a device that can stop time. It will help you through your times here on earth until you can train yourself to stop time on your own.”
“Really?! I will be able to stop time on my own some day? That is why you said not to worry right?”
“Well, no Elizabeth. What I said is you must change your idea of time and that is exactly what you must do in order to stop it. When you learn this, this gift will be taken away. It will also be taken away if you abuse it. You have to only use it when you are desperate.”
“How will I know when I’m desperate enough?”
“Look inside yourself and you will find the answer. You have to ask yourself questions like; is it worth using? Can I endure the consequences? These kinds of questions will help you greatly if you choose to see the true answer. Time may not seem like something that you can learn great things from, but you will I promise.”
“Well, thank you very much for this gift and your advice. Now, how do I use it?” I smirked.
“Haha. Yes, you may need to know that. You simply throw it into the air and it will make a wall around your surroundings so that no one can move, or even speak. It is like the wall I put in front of you but I gave you more freedom, allowing you to move backwards if you wanted and speak. But, the people and things you choose to stop time with will be frozen.”
“Well that is very good to know. Thank you for sharing and giving me this gift.”
“You’re very welcome but remember to use it wisely. It is not for games. Also, Oochoo told me to tell you the same about his gift. It is not to be used as a toy, but for safety purposes only. We do not want you to get caught up in the power of these gifts. We trust that you are wise and honest enough to use them with care and honour.”
“Yes, of course, I definitely will do that. I feel very privileged to get such amazing gifts. And discovering the dimensions has been the greatest gift of all. These past experiences have been overwhelming: I have learned so much in so little time that I am still processing everything.”
Goasila looked at me with loving blue eyes and whispered, “Take your time, take your time.” He then vanished right in front of my eyes. I tied the handkerchief looking object around my neck, and headed for the bus. I thought I might miss it but I did as Goasila told me to do, and took my time. I walked at a reasonable pace, and even stopped to pick some flowers. I thought it might be a nice gesture for my mother.