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Spiral of Time

I have always been fascinated by the theory of ‘time-travel.’ Can this happen? And if it does, how does a person cope with the phenomenon of living in two places at once? How would she keep all the people and places straight in her mind?

During my research I came upon the word ‘fugue’ and looked up its meaning – of which there are a few. They may seem to be very different, but perhaps not. I played a CD of Bach’s Fugues for the Harpsichord while writing and that helped me understand the inter-weavings of time and space through musical notes.


Fugue: a musical form consisting of a theme repeated a fifth above or a fourth below the continuing first statement.

Fugue: a dreamlike state in which a person disappears from normal life, travels extensively and loses memory of the previous life. Personality dissociation, a psychotic condition.

Fugue: from Italian/Latin: a running away or flight from

Weaving these various meanings of the word ‘fugue’ together I have written the following short story – the ending of which leaves the window open for my main character’s further travels through time.


Spiral of Time


She sits at the


letting the fingers of

her right hand

flicker over the keys

of ebony and ivory.

Occasionally, a few

of the notes

sound like something she




The melody is

just beyond

her           reach.


Almost has it….

but no,

it is gone again


the Cs and Ds and F-sharps


f  l  o  a  t  i  n  g   a w  a  y




past the edges of the blank page

that is




Her gaze lowers to see


seated upon

a velvet cushion

that spins

counter-clockwise when

she pushes on

the carpeted floor with

her satin-slippered foot

to give herself the exact

height she needs to

place her fingers upon

the keys and position her small foot

on the pedal

just          so….

Piano-forte , she thinks,

what a lovely name

for a musical instrument.






Opposites  waiting, breathless,

to make a pleasing collaboration

of sounds……


She runs her fingers

over the keys

made from

elephant tusks

and loses herself

in thoughts of

those mighty creatures

hunted down

to make these keys

under her slender hands.


While musing thus

on these thoughts

and others

her foot swivels

the velvet stool towards

the floor-to-ceiling window where

her reflection catches her


she stares

in surprise and not a little fright

at the wavy, muted form and

stands straight up.


She feels




puts her hand on  the

window glass

to steady herself.

Thoughts and images

come in




tripping over

one another

in their haste

to fill her


She peers closer

at the


still wavy in

the glass

and sees she is wearing

a dressing gown

of ivory like

the piano-forte keys

and flowing like

the musical notes

she cannot quite



Her waist is

tightly cinched by a corset

the gown’s sleeves of lace

falling away when

she stretches her arms

upward to

pat her hair.

Her hair!

swept up atop her head


it looks


She pats her hair once more

re-pinning the

escaping tendrils back

behind her ears with

the ivory combs.


More elephants sacrificed for me?


She straightens and smooths

the dressing gown and

tries to take a deep breath

nearly impossible in this confining corset.


She slows her now rapid

shallow breathing and her racing





She feels a bit

calmer now

dreamy in fact and



Where am I?

which leads to

What is my name?

which, because of the

strange way she is dressed,

inevitably leads to


When am I?


Just as these


race and



one another

a young man

steps over the threshold of

an open floor-to-ceiling


at the opposite end

of the room

and cries

‘There you are!’


which outburst answers none

of the questions

posed to her reflection

a few moments before.


He rushes towards her

grasps her hands

and declares,

‘Where have you been?’


(good question, she thinks)


‘I was so worried when

you did not return from

your walk into town.’



Barely trusting her voice

for she does not know

what it will sound like

to him (or to her)

she whispers instead,

‘I lost track of time’


How true!


He laughs, then,

‘Of course you did, my dear,

and you look quite tired

come sit on the divan

whilst I get you a glass

of cool lemonade.’


She sinks, gratefully,

onto the damask-covered sofa

(divan he called it)

and she thinks how

nothing about her surprises him

not her face

nor her dressing gown

nor her voice

nor the fact she was playing

the piano-forte…

All are familiar to him

so names are not needed.

They must know one another



Unbidden, the melody

overtakes her thoughts


the one her fingers were


picking out earlier.

The first few notes sing


her head

repeated in higher


then lower


disjointed, strange,

yet pleasing and

yes, alluring…


Her fingers ache

to play the keys once more

but she folds her hands tightly

before her as

Victor steps back into the room

comically balancing two glasses

and a pitcher on a tiny

silver tray.


Victor! that is his name….

and she is saved!

    at least for now.


‘Here, drink this slowly so

you do not feel faint from

the shock of the cold.”

(only the shock of the cold?)

‘Thank you, Victor, for the drink

and your concern for my

health and well-being.’

He looks at her strangely

perhaps pondering

her formality with him.

Who is he to her?



lover perhaps?

She will have to tread lightly

and ask questions

that are leading


not so as to arouse

his suspicions as to

her current mental state (which is what?)


Boldly she asks, ‘Victor, do we have plans for

this evening? I have quite forgotten whether

we are dining in or elsewhere.’


‘Oh, my love,

my sweet Emily,

how can you have forgotten?’