Ellie trained her feverish eyes on him. He had a beard the shape and thickness of a 30-year-old’s, but white as a snowfall. Ellie imagined a baby face under his fluff, despite his layers of wrinkles. He was a paradox in appearance.
He took all the good in the world and ruined it.
She crept closer, silent as a big cat, muscles quaking with fury. A waterfall kissed her shoes, and birds sang their battle cries for her overhead. This serene grove harbored a slice of untouched paradise. Its walls were made out of jagged stone and earth, with a roof composed of tree canopies.
It feels shameful to do something so heinous here, thought Ellie.
But then she watched him turn his back and reach for fruit that dangled on overhanging branches. He took it gently with a smile as if he wasn’t simultaneously killing people all over the world. Her disgust and hatred returned tenfold, devouring any hesitation.
He steals childhoods from the innocent, forcing them into maturity.
Without further ceremony, she exploded from the shadows, brandishing her blade. The razor-sharp steel whistled an inch away from his face.
He was loathed and feared universally.
“Oh, my, aren’t you quite the surprise.” he pulled away, strikingly graceful and composed.
Ellie, on the other hand, crouched low and bared her teeth as savagery seized her. “You DISGUSTING COWARD-” spittle flew- “you deserve every bit of what’s coming!”
“Do I?” he had the nerve to chuckle, but he was cut short when a guttural roar erupted into the clearing, startling every bird nearby. They fled into the clouds.
He didn’t, however, have the good sense to escape- even as she charged. His arrogance kept him standing firm, refusing to move, until, suddenly, his face exploded with pain. His traitorous eyes bloomed with tears, blinding him. Next was his stomach. The onslaught of flying fists only ceased when he was doubled over with the knife pressed to his neck.
Just like that, the battle was won, and Father Time found himself at the mercy of a 16-year-old. Unfortunately for him, she wasn’t in the mood for mercy. Ellie paused for just a moment, gazing into his eyes.
“Any last words?” she murmured in a moment of sobering clarity.
“No,” he groaned in pain, “do it.”
Thus, she closed her eyes and slit his throat. It felt smooth. Clean. Natural. Yet, it was the hardest thing she had ever done.
He slumped to the ground. His reign of terror was finally over.
Eyes still firmly shut, she felt tears race down her cheeks. They tickled her chin, and in the silence of the grove, she could hear them splat on the ground. Ellie thought of all the lives she saved, the sheer justice she just brought to the world. That was until the body beneath her hands shifted.
Screeching profanities, she leaped out of her skin.
Father Time rose, brushing the dirt from his pant legs and rubbing at his neck. His hand came back completely clean. The only evidence of Ellie’s work was a faint mark across his throat, like a scar long healed. “You’re not the first to try, and I doubt you’ll be the last,” he spoke over his shoulder, turned to the entrance of the grove, already walking towards it. “But, unlike the phrase… you can’t kill time.”
He took advantage of the shock that froze Ellie to the ground. But, just as he prepared to disappear into the woods and make his exit permanent, Ellie came unstuck. She screamed and charged like a football player, barrelling into his legs.
Father Time went down hard, yelping as he bumped his head against a rock before falling still. Ellie paused there on the ground, panting, cherishing in taking him off guard.
Time for plan B.
Ellie is 342 years old now, but no one cares to count anymore. Time passes too slowly to matter.
Ellie mentions to anyone she speaks to, half in jest, about how maybe it was better before. About how maybe Father Time didn’t do anything wrong. Cloaked in thick layers of sarcasm, her statements are always met with chuckles. But to Ellie, they aren’t jokes. Those thoughts bounce in her head all day, all night. Regret plagues her.
Ellie hates who she’s become. She used to be so driven, she was able to single-handedly imprison Time himself. Now, she finds herself devoid of motivation: it’s easy to procrastinate when there’s always a later. Without the push of Time, the world remains stagnant.
Today, she sets out to change it all. Nodding at the guards, she enters the high-security prison that Father Time has all to himself.
He soured the good, but he also sweetened the bad, suspending life in a constant balance.
They allow her in without a second thought. After all, she was the one to lock Father Time away- why would she ever be tempted to break him out? She marches down the halls, heading for his cell.
He is a gardener, allowing people to grow. He steals childhoods only to make room for the next stage in their lives.
In Ellie’s newfound immortality, she remains 16, physically and mentally. She can never marry or have children. While she used to mourn the loss of her childhood, now all she longs for is the freedom to grow old.
He is loathed and feared universally.
That would never change, but Ellie realizes now that Time is not the enemy. He is the one who drives people to act and achieve. He heals. He ensures growth.
He glances up in surprise as she enters his small chamber. For the past 326 years, he’s been here, forced to stop the natural rhythm of his world.
“Hello,” his voice comes out scratchy and hoarse. For the second time, he says “aren’t you quite the surprise.”
“Get up and get ready,” she grins, “you’re getting out of here.”
Megan Malone is an avid nature and animal lover who is passionate about growing as both a writer and a person with everything she does. For as long as she can remember, she’s loved creating stories! She wrote her first book at 14, and she dreams of being a published novelist someday. As well as being a regular contributor for ‘Hey! Young Writer’, she writes blog posts for ‘Young Eager Writers’. Check them out at: https://www.youngeagerwriters.org/blog.