Like No One’s Watching

Prompt: Construct


“Time is just a construct,” said August, at the weekly Search Inside Myself meeting. Dr Whitley was pleased to have August in the group, since she often started off the conversation before the doctor had time to officially open the session, which was good because Dr Whitley was never quite prepared for what the inmates had to say.

“Bollocks,” said Bonnie, whose new romantic pen pal was from Manchester, England.

“Language,” said Miss Fisher kindly, as if Bonnie was one of her long-ago third grade students.

“Sorry Miss Fisher,” said Bonnie, “But it really is bullshit.”

Miss Fisher sighed.

“You don’t even know what it means,” August said to Bonnie.

“I know I’m doing twelve years worth of time here, and it’s no construction. It’s real.” Bonnie put the little balsa wood dowel that substituted for a cigarette, into her mouth. She scowled and inhaled deeply.

“But it means that you don’t have to look at it like it’s twelve years,” said August. “There’s no such thing as months and years. I mean, who invented them?”

“The judge,” said Agnes. “What do you think, Miss Fisher?”

All eyes turned to the rather thin, elderly woman whose uniform hung more loosely on her frame of late. She straightened up in the grey folding chair, and pushed her glasses up from the bridge of her nose.

“Time is real enough, I think,” said Miss Fisher. “It sometimes helps to dissect it into manageable pieces, like when you eat a layer cake. It is easier to eat a slice of cake than grab a hunk with your bare hands.”

“Mmm, cake,” said Tricia, who usually only contributed once per session, so this was the one thing.

All thoughts turned to cake, and there was a pause.

“So what?” said Agnes. “So what if time is a construct? What difference does it make? I’m out in a few months, Bonnie has a decade left. How does grabbing chunks of cake in her bare hands help her?”

Dr Whitley felt the conversation was straying and cleared her throat as if to speak. She was ignored.

August said, “Well, that’s how I would eat a cake if no one was looking.”

“A chocolate cake?” asked Bonnie, tapping imaginary ash into an imaginary ashtray.

“Definitely,” said August.