Something 59


It’s something fifty-nine again. I look at my phone. It’s 3:59 a.m.. I’ve somehow trained myself to do this. No watch or clock in the house, just the time from my mobile phone, and invariably it’s a minute to some hour or other. I feel the need to look at the time and resist. I wait. Ten, twelve minutes. And eventually I go ahead and check. Something fifty-nine.
This useless skill crept up on me over the period of a few days, about eighteen months ago. It was roughly the third or fourth time I’d checked the time and it had read 10:59, 13:59, 20:59. And I thought about the chances of it. So I started trying to look only at something fifty-nine and after a fortnight of this found I could do it pretty much automatically, even if I’d been sleeping for a few hours.
Now you’d think that being able to do this It would follow that I have therefore mastered the art of always knowing instinctively what the actual time is, but no.
For instance I could feel that in five minutes it will be one minute to the hour, but despite my repeated consistently accurate guesswork, predictions etc. I need the confirmation of the mobile phone’s clock to give me certainty, and so the feeling of having so long to wait until I can check gives me no authority to tell others what I think the time might be at any given minute.
The best I can say is “My best guess, right now, is that in twenty-four minutes it will be 2:59 p.m. but I won’t be able to confirm that for you for twenty-four minutes.”
Now for those that know me well, they have come to use me instead of their own watches: so much so that the sight of a fellow villager wearing a watch is virtually unheard of. Strangers passing through and enquiringly of the time are referred to me and I give them my best guess. The more trusting sort are happy with my answer and don’t feel compromised by a lack of corroboration. Others, however, more suspicious in nature, press on me to check my phone, or to let them do so, but unfortunately for them things have progressed here in that I now no longer carry my phone/timepiece with me any more. I never used the thing as a phone and now no longer need it as a watch.
As things stand now, the situation has little advantages. I find myself, desirous of more time in the company of my sweetheart, telling her it is forty-five minutes until 21:59 when she gets the last train to our neighbouring village when in fact it is I feel just twelve minutes until that time. Fortunately the railway timetable at our station relies on me too now, and the four trains per day which leave, leave according to my say so.
This of course works in the opposite direction. I can curtail the time of onerous tasks. Sometimes by a couple of hours. It can shrink the working week by ten hours. It can increase the opening hours of a cafe until I’m ready to leave at night. It took me a matter of only a few weeks to catch on to the fact that, within certain parameters, the time would be exactly what I said it was.
Does this disconcert me? No. For I feel I have only done on a small, local scale what humanity has been doing for centuries. The time is what we say it is.

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