It’s easy to lose time when we walk away from our screens or misplace a watch. Other forces might be at work, too.
Writers responded to the prompt of lost time, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
A Brown Rubber Watch by Ruchira Khanna
My owner was one careless soul. One day she came to Lake Superior for a picnic. She was careful to remove me before a dip but forgot to pick me up after that.
Time ticked away, and I saw many sunrises and sunsets.
One evening, I felt a wet grip and realized a canine had fancied my ticking sound. He dropped me in the water when he went to fetch the ball. The waves welcomed me. I found a new home until they swept me over.
“Hello beautiful lady, what year is it? How much time did I lose?”
Time Lost by D. Avery
Give my watch back to me
Lost since ‘83
Relic of time— brown rubber band, hands that wind,
Never thought I would see
its face again; Sea
scratched, sand-blasted; etched, lined
not so unlike mine
Time-keeper losing faith; time come back to me
Covering sands march blind
measuring marked time
Not for the watch these tears
It’s the time that went (foolishly spent) I want
In a flash, disappeared!
Suddenly I’m Here.
Another flash, lost time
No reason, some rhyme
Give me my watch, give me back the time it’s seen
Worn trails, tracked storied lines
When Did You Last Have It? by Anne Goodwin
It was there when I sat at my desk to write this story. It was gone before I typed THE END. Would I find it buried in my Twitter feed? In the dregs of my coffee? Behind the TV?
It was there when I rose from bed this morning. Gone when I crawled back tonight. Did I lose it in an endless to-do list? Distracted by the chatter in my head?
It was there in abundance in my twenties. Each decade chipped more away. Did I waste it mourning what was missing? Or was it never mine to use?
Out of Time by Norah Colvin
“Not yet! I’m not finished.”
Mallory stared at the page, blank except for some scribbles and a few false starts. Others smiled as they handed in their papers, earning accolades and rewards for tasks successfully completed.
“Please, just a little more time?”
“You’ve already had more than most.”
“I can do it. Promise.”
The timekeeper tapped the watch. “Five more. That’s all.”
Mallory worked frantically until the timekeeper declared, “You’re out of time.”
Mallory smiled, “It’s never too late to begin.”
The timekeeper agreed. “But you could have achieved much more had you not wasted time earlier.”
Finding Mr Bunny by Joanne Fisher
Their rabbit had escaped to Faerie, and Cindy followed him. When she finally managed to grab him and take him back to the farm, Cindy found the sky was darkening though it had only been an hour. She put Mr Bunny back in his hutch and went home. Jess was waiting for her.
“Where have you been?” Jess asked. “I couldn’t find you!”
“Mr Bunny escaped and I was looking for him.” Cindy replied.
“The whole day?”
The trouble with Faerie was that going there meant you always lost time in this world, but Cindy didn’t tell her that.
Chronos-4000 by Saiffun Hassam
Spacecraft Hermes-25 zipped through wormholes in the Andromeda galaxy. The spacecraft’s superintelligent AI Pegasus-5 swore when unexpectedly Wormhole-EXP12, the newfangled gates, were NOT functioning! He lost light years of time.
Wormhole-EXP9 was too far back. He sped forward to Star Gate-Hydra, an obsolete gateway, but functional. Pegasus had an important birthday gift to deliver.
It was the 4000th birthday of Old Yusef on Planet Yggdrasil. His ancestors were Terran and once owned a watch manufacturing company. A time capsule containing a 1982 brown rubber watch, Chronos-4000, dropped down on the planet. Just 5000 parsecs late. Better late than never.
Stanton Near Forsyth Street by Donna Matthews
“Hey, your school called, and classes are canceled.”
Charlie, staring out the window, asks, “Why?”
“Dunno, but I thought we’d hit up the modern art museum.”
“Yeah, okay, I guess.”
Walking through the heavy front doors, a hush falls over their footsteps. They wander the halls until they find an empty gallery and sit in front of the Stanton near Forsyth Street.
Long minutes pass.
She chances a sideway glance and sees a single tear fall.
“What do you see?” she whispers.
“Huh?” His eyes coming back into focus, he whispers back, “Remembering dad, last time we saw him.”
Lost Time by FloridaBorne
My right arm feels like it’s moving, my hand is in front of my face, but I blink at the white ceiling.
A nurse in white, a doctor in white… their words echo with an unbearable reverberation. The room becomes black.
Awake again, I move my head. The dark room has turned white walls into grey. People rush inside, lights blink on a monitor. When the doctor speaks, his words no longer sound hollow.
“You’ve been in a coma for 10 years…”
My family dead, my arms and legs amputated from the accident, my eyes close one final time.
Time Lost, and Found by Chel Owens
His gnarled, brusque, tannin hands caressed the watch band. He’d found it and its watch face along Lake Superior; brushed it from forgotten memories and dormant agate stones. Now, warmed in his fingers, the band changed. He saw it new, cut, fresh, oiled; attached to his grandfather’s timepiece for his son’s eighth birthday.
A long time later for one as rough as he, the old leatherworker released a breath. Rising, he set the wind-worn watch on his curio shelf near a faded photograph and a curling crayon picture. Tears in eyes, he shuffled out to put the kettle on.
Overcoming Obstacles by Sue Spitulnik
Michael sat on the floor of the rehab room facing a young woman, wheelchairs beside both of them. Her leg stumps matched his. He said,
“How did you pass the boot camp obstacle course? You appear too short to defeat the rock wall.”
“You mean I was too short!” She stopped. He waited. “Another recruit showed me the trick.”
“How long in hospital?”
“That’s lost time, but if you’ll master getting into your chair from the floor they’ll let you learn to use legs back home.”
“Nobody told me that.”
“I just did.”
“Show me how. Please.”
Friendship of Time by Ann Edall-Robson
Whirr, bong, bong, bong. The old clock echoed through the dark house. He counted hollow sounds off in his mind. His trusted friend spoke to him hourly. And so his days and nights went. The mantle clock kept him in sync with the goings-on in the house. When the neighbour would drop by for his lessons in braille and sign language. When his family would come home from their day to lavish him with news and gossip of the world outside his personal cave. The accident had cost him, but he had not lost the friendship of time.
Too Tak by Anita Dawes
Humans would call me a bad fairy
They don’t know much about my world
I am known as a Too Tak
I need to steal time
In order to feed the hunger inside
Without this, my kind don’t live long
Let’s face it, humans get plenty of time
To lose a little won’t hurt
Half an hour here and hour there
What harm can it do?
They think the clocks are wrong
Running slow or fast
They blame the time loss on bad memory
When my time is done
They get the borrowed time back
As a lost memory…
Lost Time by Frank Hubeny
Thinking back Bill wished he did things differently years ago. Not that he would have had any basis to change given what he knew then, but he wished he knew then what he knew now.
His son Clifford was screaming obscenities at him. He saw himself through his father’s eyes and cringed. He realized he deserved the scorn, but for reasons Clifford wouldn’t acknowledge.
Bill regretted all this lost time. How could he make things right now? He considered praying and cringed again. Was it a miracle, he wondered, when embarrassed he bent his knees, cringed and finally understood?
Regret by Gloria McBreen
Rose opened the shabby old shoebox.
‘All my favourite things,’ she said softly with her hand on her heart. ‘You kept them.’
She rummaged through the box and lifted out a brown rubber watch.
Laughing she said, ‘Matt gave me this when we were eight.’
Nancy dabbed her eyes with her hanky. ‘I’m so sorry Rose…and ashamed. I’ve missed so much.’
‘We all have Mam. I’m sorry too, for staying away.’
The doorbell rang. ‘Are you ready?’ Rose asked.
Nancy nodded. Yes, she was at last ready to welcome her son-in-law Matt, and to finally meet her twenty-eight-year-old grandson.
Lost Time by kathy70
In this lost year, we’ve missed parades, holidays, graduations, travel, hugs and so much more. We also have learned how to see family on our phones and have work meetings without leaving home.
We learned to ration TP and hand sanitizer as well as wearing masks. I guess it’s silly to talk about things, it’s the lives lost that is devastating. We have lost the time that would have been spent with all our friends/family.
It may be easier to count our learned stuff and not the lost. Still miss hugs the most. Where do we go from here.
Time Lost by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Elbows on bent knees,
Hands dangle between, wings on a gentle-breezed bird.
Butt planted, chilly on Autumnal Earth.
Grass spent, golden and crackling
Under a sky sharp as blue porcelain.
Leaves flicker down from balding trees,
The memories still, cut deep.
Nothing reaches me here on this hilltop.
High above the world, separate, waiting.
Stop time in order to save time.
So much lost, so much to be repaired
Pray what’s gone before yields wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle, knowing it won’t roll out on its own
I rise and stumble, back into the wicked world I helped create.
The Brown Rubber Watch by Doug Jacquier
The Great Crisis of the History of the Universe included the collapse of the Daylight Savings Bank. Claims were made (but never verified), that people were seen leaping from the clock face of Big Ben, in despair at the plummeting value of their Time shares. The only asset holding its value was the Futures market, dominated by Brown Brothers, which had a history of bouncing back like a rubber ball, no matter the catastrophe. Elections and the virus disappeared from screens as the world settled into nervously searching for signs of recovery, later known as the Brown Rubber Watch.
Time Bandits by Geoff Le Pard
‘Here we are.’
‘Are you sure this is a new motel. It feels the same.’
‘There’s no ashtray.’
‘Small mercies. I’m losing track of time.’
‘You’ve never cared about time.’
‘Very Einstein, Morgan. What’s that even mean?’
‘You’re never on time.’
‘I’ve never missed a plane.’
‘What about that old brown watch? It was always fast.’
‘It meant I knew I had more time than I thought I did. What about you? Your watch never even went.’
‘At least it was right twice a day.’
‘Which is more than could be said for its owner.’
‘It was dad’s.’
Not Her World by Charli Mills
Ivie stashed her digital watch in a pile of discarded clothes, ready to dive into Superior. She waved at her dad and brother bobbing in the lake. When she emerged, her family had vanished, the beach became a sterile room. Medical equipment pulsed and wheezed. Nurses initiated a flurry of activity until the room swelled with old people claiming to be her relatives. Ivie requested her watch to check the date and time for herself. A bearded geezer claimed it was lost the day of her accident. That’s when she knew. Ivie dove through time to a strange world.
The Present by D. Avery
“Welcome to the What-You Seek Boutique.”
She said she was just browsing, not really seeking anything.
“No?” The shopkeeper proffered a brown rubber banded watch.
“I had a watch like that once, but haven’t missed it. I don’t need it.”
“It’s still ticking. Look.”
She looked. The path around the watch face showed all she’d ever done, places she had been. The watch’s one hand pointed to Home, not a written word but a feeling of what Home meant to her and her alone.
“Home… but— what next?”
The shopkeeper smiled. “There’s time. Take it. A present for you.”
Lost Time and Lust by Kerry E.B. Black
The Doctor hunched over Gretchen’s cauldron and sniffed.
“So.” He jumped at her voice. “You’d like potion, would you?”
He straightened, imperious, and nodded. “If it works.”
A half-smile stole across her face. “Just like my Granny’s. We’ve bottled lost time.”
“How many years will this give me?” The sack he tossed clanked with wealth.
She ran her fingertips over the coins. “This’ll give you thirty years.” She ladled brew into a cup.
He licked papery lips with enthusiasm, nostrils flaring. “No tricks, witch.”
She handed him the cup. “Of course not, Faustus.”
He swallowed without noticing the undertaste.
Lost Time, Never Found by Simon
He stared at his mom’s 1982 Brown rubber watch. It triggered his memories.
His phone rang, She usually calls him at that time. But he was busy that day and ignored it. But she continuously ringed him, his skin felt a sudden goose bumps. He quickly stopped his work and called back, no one answered. He reached his home to find his mom on floor unconcious. He broke in tears, he immediately called up medic team, in moments they came and declared she’s dead, he regretted the moment he couldn’t answer her phone, but, lost time never found again.
Lost Time by M J Mallon
Stan picked up an imaginary sand timer, turned it over and watched as the grains of sand ran. He didn’t say a word. His grandchildren were playing on the beach building sandcastles, oblivious to his moment of sadness. On his wrist, he wore a 1982 brown rubber watch. It was now 2020. The watch had long since given up ticking, but he’d never throw it out. It would be terrible to do so. The watch belonged to his beautiful wife and brought back happy memories.
June died in 1983, was never fancy but always special.
Time Bus by Bill Engleson
“Been waiting long?”
“I don’t know. Hour, maybe? Two months?”
“What’s time’s it supposed to be here?”
“Schedule’s on that pole. Didn’t look.”
“How come? Not curious?”
“Just didn’t, that’s all. Look, don’t look, it’ll come when it does.”
“Makes sense. Think I’ll take a boo.”
“Be my guest.”
“Took a look…”
“At the schedule?”
“Well, it’s kinda confusing.”
“It’s a schedule. They’re all confusing. That’s why I don’t bother.”
“Not that kind of confusing.”
“What kind, then?”
“It says…Time Bus Leaving When It’s Your Time.”
“What time you got?”
(17) Damned Family (Lost Time) by JulesPaige
Jesse paced the Presidential Suite, an escape gifted by Uncle Stan. The dishes in the kitchen sink was proof that she had made something to eat. But what it was she couldn’t recall. Or how long ago she had actually eaten – she didn’t remember.
The curtains were closed, only minimal light illuminated the path that Jesse had created from the Master suite, around the dining table and the sitting area. She unplugged all the clocks, and landline phones. As well as turning off her flip phone. Sleep meant she might dream. Jesse wanted to lose time and some memories.
My Own Re (Treat) by Michelle Vongkaysone
I retreat into myself on occasion.
Sometimes these treks last for ages.
I know better uses for my time exist.
However, I can’t deny my urges.
My journeys give me perspective.
During them, I am completely alone.
There are no demands to obey.
My time is something to devour.
I can spend it just how I want to.
What matters is my pleasure.
I want to binge on time itself.
I wile away my days in silence.
I lose myself as time passes by.
I retreat into myself for that bliss.
It’s the best treat I can give myself.
Time of Hands by D. Avery
“Tellin’ ya Pal, I’m glad vacation’s done. It’s easier knowin’ how ta spend time when ya ain’t got so much free time.”
“Thet’s true Kid. I thought it’d be a good time visitin’ my cuzzins, but ended up more like doin’ hard time.”
“Ya spend any time at the Rodeo?”
“Was gonna but time flew. You?”
“Dang goats took too much a my time. I was ferever roundin’ ‘em up.”
“Once upon a time thet’s how Shorty got started rodeoin’— ropin’ goats.”
“She’s put her time in, fer sure.”
“Yep. Her time’s comin’. Now move, Kid. Time ta work.”
What a marathon read I had this morning, I lost time but it was well spent. Now where did I put the dog …
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Ha! I appreciate you getting lost among the stories, Ellen, Hope you find the dog.
I had let her out before I started reading, I finished then after put on the wash, cleaned the bathroom … then remembered 😕 she has forgiven me since.