How We Live Now
In the year of the Comet, time became confused. Bicycles made on Fridays were slower than identical models made on other days, and although some people claimed this had always been so, they could not deny the superior efficiency of cars built on a Wednesday, although in some weeks complications arose when there was more than one Tuesday, since the orbit of the earth around the sun (or as more people now suspected, the sun around the earth) had developed a stammer. A scientist speculated that manufactured items might retain their original time signature, though it was generally agreed this was a theory that explained nothing.
People reacted strangely; they took to assuming new names, but then they’d change them again. It got so you could only recognise friends by their physical appearance, assuming that each person kept their own face. Some declared the End of Days and threw themselves off high buildings, but that is only to be expected with a comet in the skies.
Reading was affected. You’d begin a sentence and come to a point where although the words seemed to make sense, the meaning was lost. Then, when you went back to start the sentence again, it seemed that the words had changed. Eventually, written sentences of more than six words were abandoned and the dedicated learned to read without looking back, but by then most of us had already given up the habit.
When I look back at that period now, it seems unreal, but then I begin to worry whether I am actually looking back, or forward, to something yet to happen. I imagine the flight of an arrow, that changes direction abruptly, zig-zags, perhaps turns back on itself, until I am no longer sure which of the thoughts in my head to classify under the heading of memory.