At 8am on Thursday 12th June people across the city awoke, rubbed their eyes and tried to understand why it was not 7am. They had been fished from their dreams an hour late and now fuzzily tried to work out what had happened. An hour had slipped by without notice and, having been asleep at the time, no one had any idea how it had happened.
“I told you no one would notice,” I said, as we drove for the hills. “Have we got any biscuits left?”
“A few.” Rachel handed me a bourbon and took one for herself. We had been on the road since five, our little van putt-putting its way up the motorway, weighed down by the swag in the back. Supplies were depleted and we were both tired.
“Next service station we get to we’ll stop and get some more. What do you fancy?”
“Okey doke.” We sped further north.
But when we stopped at the service station we could not buy almond fingers. The biscuit delivery was nearly an hour late and everything was confusion. We bought the last two packets of custard creams they had left over and hastily retreated to the van, feeling as though everyone’s eyes were on us. As if they knew. We sat in the van and ate custard creams until the floor was covered in crumbs.
We got going again, turning off the motorway and into the country. The swag bobbed around in the back and we could hear it lightly bouncing off the sides.
“It’ll be ok in the back there won’t it?” I asked. “I mean, it couldn’t break…”
“Don’t worry,” Rachel assured me. “It’ll be fine, we secured it pretty well.”
“I guess. What happens if it escapes?”
She didn’t answer.
Technically, the swag was not a full hour. We had only managed fifty seven minutes but that had been difficult enough to bundle up anyway. Those fifty seven minutes now bounced around in the back of the van, biding their time.
By ten o’clock we had finished the biscuits and were growing impatient, so we pulled off the road into a field. The van bounced over the uneven surface until it came to a stop and I cut the engine.
I looked across at Rachel. “Ready?”
“Yes,” she smiled.
We got out of the van and opened the back doors. Our fifty seven minutes sat shaken but unharmed in the back, humming. We pulled out the deck chairs and our books and set them down in the field before going back to get the bundle. It was surprisingly light and I set it down on the grass near our chairs.
“What time is it?” asked Rachel.
“Nine minutes past ten. Do you think my watch will change?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know. There’s only one way to find out.” She began to pull the string that held the bundle together.
“Careful!” I warned but the string was already pulled and out came our fifty seven minutes. The stolen time expanded slowly before bursting with a loud, thick POP. They mixed into the air, spreading outwards across the field but not travelling too far, cramped from being squashed up in the van. My watch did not change at all and the air felt little different, perhaps a little younger.
I stretched, sat down in one of the deck chairs and picked up my book as Rachel did the same. Time ticked by in the air all around us as we spent our secret fifty seven minutes reading in the sun.
It had all been worth it.
Once the fifty seven minutes were up time continued as normal, ticking by as always. We relaxed a little less, knowing that we were on real time again but then, we were still sat reading in a field up in the hills and all around was the peace and quiet. It was pretty difficult to not relax. We shared a bottle of wine and the pages flew by.
As we drove back home the light fell and we yawned from our longer day.