All Our Yesterdays
“It is utterly beyond our power to measure the changes of things by time. Quite the contrary, time is an abstraction at which we arrive by means of the changes of things.”
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
-Traditional Gaelic prayer
“The sole purpose of history is to be rewritten.”
-Oscar Wilde in “The Decay of Lying”
“I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
-John D. Rockefeller
Every hair on Chance’s body had tensed as if it planned to jump from its follicle, and goosebumps singed up his back and around his arms and legs. Even his lips tingled.
The lightning blazed the sky around it electrostatic blue-white, which faded first to purple, then indigo, and then finally into darkness. Raindrops like crystal pebbles filled the air, and a giant smoke cloud, highlighted by orange flame, smudged the night where Chance’s house had been.
Hanley, Geisel, and Nazor all stood paused in the street like mannequins, pointing their guns at each like characters in comic-book panels, their faces stunned, angry. A tiny burst of white clung to the muzzle of Hanley’s gun, and a thin curlicue of smoke like a prehensile tail trailed upwards from it without ever moving at all.
Chance took everything in without ever moving his head. His gut had clenched, his hands bunched into frightened fists, and his whole body had locked up tight, not like it couldn’t move but rather like he was too petrified.
“What’d you do?” he whispered. He barely moved his lips when he did so, and he didn’t turn his head to look at her.
When she spoke, her voice shook between awed, desperate, defensive, and apologetic. “I had to. Everything you said would happen was—I needed to think.”
“So what, you paused time?” His attention focused on the millions of frozen raindrops, each like a glass bead. “Can we move? Is it safe?”