Once an ephemera, the creature of a day, thought it had all the time in the world. The mid-afternoon sun hadn’t moved since the ephemera began observing it. The bar-like shadows it had been told to beware of didn’t appear to have advanced an inch. And twilight, that rumored killer with a limp, must be swinging his great net on the far side of the hill. So much time and so little to do! What a bore it could be to count the hours of a long, hot afternoon. Nothing to excite you or to promise satisfactions worth the effort. Besides, where would you begin if you wanted to be sure you weren’t wasting your energies? What guarantee was there of not being bored even more by what you found than by what you left behind? A dread of such boredom was what had always attracted the ephemera to theme parks, where you could rely upon others to arrange every experience in advance for you, trusting them to spare you all those annoyingly tedious moments in life. Left to its own devices, it just had never known how to create the same amount of “quality time” itself. So, where should it start now, what with the afternoon stretching away endlessly before it? Or did it make any difference, when you came down it, where you began? Was every place as good for that as any other? Was the whole point of having a long afternoon ahead of one not to worry about how far it stretched? There might be room for small diversions and grand passions alike, the ephemera imagined, as well as everything in between. Maybe even some idle flitting about just for the amusement of it, who could tell? The ephemera’s initial efforts at taking charge of its own life were encouraging. Once underway, it found itself drawn in any number of directions, often simultaneously. From afar, these might have looked like idle wanderings off course, but from within the ephemera’s growing enthusiasm, they made invigorating sense. Why spend your life following a single, straight path, after all, when there were so many tantalizing delights on every hand? And for each delight tasted, a dozen more opened themselves to the ephemera as if they’d only been waiting for it to flutter their way. What an endless flowering of the unexpected this life turned out to be, meadows and glades and even deep-forest clearings bright with colored promise and captivating scents! The ephemera felt as if it could carry on like this forever. But it couldn’t, of course. All the while it had followed its spirits wherever they might go, the shadows had indeed been moving. The dark stalker had been creeping steadily over the hill towards it, and now the sound of the onrushing net silenced everything else. The ephemera’s day had come to a close just when it couldn’t imagine ever exhausting the hours in it or growing tired of the discoveries each one held. Too little time was the reality, not too much: so little that not being deeply thankful to have had any time here at all was inexcusable. Which may explain why the ephemera had no more complaints about the tedium of life when dusk reached through the narrow mesh to enfold it.
Copyright © 2005 by Geoffrey Grosshans