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by Tim Love

Newton’s light was tiny, coloured cannonballs, his time universal. Now even time can bounce or spread. Most laws of science disregard time’s direction. Time emerges. Time is the study of the brain.

As a toddler, Roy thought he was invisible when he closed his eyes. In his teens, never yet in love, he thought he was happy. When he met Laura at university he knew better. They became inseparable, comforting each other awaiting their results — of her history exams and his maths, then later his sperm count tests and her hormone levels, later still his red urine (beetroot) and the lump in her breast (malignant). Years turned to precious minutes. Alone again he closed his eyes.

Mathematicians love finding connections between once unrelated topics.

Descartes connected geometry and algebra. He had less luck with body and mind — as different as time and space, he wrote. Einstein created space-time but couldn’t connect gravity with quantum mechanics.

Meanwhile entropy and aging took their toll, random mutations accumulating with each cell division, not all bad. The strongest survive.

He wasn’t strong enough to bother about the ache that could have been caught early. He knew what it was like sitting at a bedside watching someone die, waiting for each breath. He didn’t want to be a burden to friends. They were all he had but they were only friends.

What is the self except an illusion created to explain self-awareness, a way to improve survival chances. Too little belief in it and you lack community spirit. Too much and you believe in gods and immortality. Can the self ever be a whole? What happens when it’s diminished by dementia or after the part you shared becomes yours alone? If you’re any less a person it’s disguised as depression, then a desire to live for the moment — suppressing the future suppresses the past too.

When the hospital discharged him with a self-administered morphine supply they knew what they were doing. Where does the self go in sleep?

Is it like stars in daytime? Thousands of dawns are no proof that there’ll be another. Suppose one morning all the stars go out. No one would know, until they break down the door and find his body on one side of the bed, a nightdress ready under the other pillow.

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet, Moving Parts (HappenStance), and a story collection, By All Means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His prose has appeared in Forge, Stand, Unthology, etc. He blogs at litrefs.blogspot.com/