Washed by a Wave of Wind
M. Shayne Bell, editor

Chapter 6
Other Time
Diana Lofgran Hoffman 

[p.85]Sandy wandered through the parking lot of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, sipping a carton of milk and eating a muffin from the vending machine. And wondering where she’d parked. She was tired enough that it was hard to remember anything. Her head ached. Her feet ached. She’d had three or four hours of sleep for the past six nights, juggling the demands of a sick infant, a cross toddler, a husband in graduate school, and the night shift at the hospital.

She wandered over to a trash dumpster and dropped in her carton and wrapper. Something drew her eye, something shimmering in the morning light, half-hidden beneath a pile of shredded paper. She hesitated, staring at it. Hospital dumpsters were not good places for rummaging. But the object lay near the side of the dumpster, and the paper around it seemed clean enough. She glanced around her, saw no one near, then stepped over and drew it out.

It was a ball, sort of: grapefruit-sized and divided through the middle, like a huge yo-yo. Its surface shifted from rippling greens to iridescent blues and violets. Someone’s pop-art telephone or radio? She turned it over, but there were no levers, no knobs or buttons, no receiver. She pulled at it and twisted, but it did not open. She pushed and, feeling a little give between the two sides, pressed them together. They caught and held. 

Silence. Sudden and absolute silence. 

Sandy stiffened, her ears straining for some sound, any whisper of sound; there was nothing. I’m deaf, I’ve had a stroke.

[p.86]Her hands began to shake, and she dropped the ball to touch her ears to rub them, unstop them. The ball hit the sidewalk with a harsh crack, and then there were sea gulls’ cries and traffic sounds again—and they were like music.

 Sandy stared at the ball at her feet and stepped backward, trembling. The ball had uncoupled with the impact. Had she only imagined? Was she, in her weariness, dreaming? Falling asleep on her feet? She shook her head, confused. She crouched down and reached out a tentative hand but then drew back. Something had happened, something utterly unnatural. Get out of here, she told herself. Leave it. But she didn’t. She crouched on the sidewalk and studied the ball. There was nothing much to see, really. It lay still, apparently undamaged. It looked fairly ordinary-just pretty plastic. She reached out, nudged it with a finger. It rolled a little. That was all. And yet … 

Finally, cautiously, she picked it up, but with just the tips of her fingers, as if it were hot. She stood for a long time, wondering, biting her lip. At length her curiosity prevailed: she drew a deep breath and slowly pressed in the sides of the ball. They united with a soft click. 

Sound ended. 

Holding her breath, hesitant, Sandy looked up—to see a world that had lost not only sound, but motion. Cyclists and pedestrians stood arrested. Birds hung in the sky. The cars on the streets lay still, as if parked in the middle of the lanes and intersections. Everything in the world had stopped, except Sandy. 

She leaned over, picked up a pebble from the pavement, and threw it. It flew less than a yard, slowing and then hanging motionless in the air. 

Sandy’s hands grew cold, and her skin prickled beneath her clothing. How? What power on earth could do this, could hold the world still? 

She looked down at the device (her hands were trembling again), and she pulled, twisted, and clawed at it until the sides came apart, and sound and motion returned. 

The ball makes time … or stops it. Sandy walked back to her car and sat in the front seat in disbelief. She put the ball on the seat beside her, but the sight of it made her so uneasy she covered it with her sweater. She thought about it for a long time. 

At length she drove home. Bruce had to get to his physics class. But she thought about the device throughout the day: through a morning [p.87]and afternoon of weariness—she fell asleep every time she sat down to give Nathan a bottle or read Alicia a story; through an evening of colic that kept her pacing the floor during those precious few hours when she should have been in bed; and through a night shift at work when she fairly staggered through her duties. 

The ball could end all that. All those times, hundreds of times I have wished there were more hours in a day. If only she dared to use it. But she could not even think of it without a certain rush of tension. The memory of its still and silent world made her skin crawl. It was unnatural. But then, so was all technology. And Sandy found that she coveted the implications of its power until she thought of little else. 

She thought of it the next morning as she parked the car in front of the apartment and trudged up the walkway. She could hear Nathan starting to whimper. There would not be a moment of rest. She considered the day before her, a day just like yesterday, to be spent wandering about in a fog of fatigue. Her need for sleep consumed all pleasure, all desire, and every imperative. Yet she could have sleep now, as much as she wanted, if she dared. 

Sandy paused, considering. She went to the closet where she’d hidden the ball in an ice chest and took it out. She turned it over a few times. Did it really … ? 

She held it tightly, smooth and heavy in her hands, and she hesitated. The baby’s whimper rose in pitch, becoming an angry howl. Sandy pushed inward on the ball. The wailing died. The rushing of water in the bathroom sink echoed into silence, and every other sound that should have been there fell away. 

Sandy shivered. She shook her head, grinding her teeth just to hear the sound of it-of something. Grasping the ball tightly with both hands, she edged to the bathroom door and peered in. There was Bruce frozen in place, leaning over the sink with shaving cream hanging from his razor. Had his mouth just begun to open, to call to her, “I’m gonna be late; could you iron my shirt and make me a lunch while I grab some breakfast, dear?” (as he did every morning when she came home, desperate for a moment of rest before the baby woke). 

Sandy stared at him with a twisted smile and said, “Not yet, dear. Not for a long time yet.” 

She stepped to the doorway of the children’s room but did not enter. Habit pressed her to check on Nathan. But he would be frozen—frozen in the very act of crying. She didn’t want to see him like that. She [p.88]wouldn’t be able to sleep for the sight. So she left his door closed and went to her own room. She went to bed then, and slept ten hours by her watch. When she awoke it was still 7:10 in the morning (according to the clock on the wall). Bruce stood just as she’d left him, a glob of shaving cream still waiting to fall from his razor. 

 

By the end of the week Sandy was a new woman. Her eyes were bright, the brighter for the meticulous care with which she applied her makeup. Her house was clean—really, shining clean—and the children were scrubbed, dressed and fed by eight each morning. At night, when Nathan cried, she took him into the quiet of Other Time and rocked him, uninterrupted, while Alicia stood statuesque outside the field. 

Sandy sewed for herself a small waist-pack to carry the ball—the timemaker—so she could keep it with her and yet have both hands free.  Throwing pebbles, she defined the boundaries of its influence. It created a sphere ten to twelve feet across, although the borders were hard to define. The pebbles slowed gradually before coming completely to rest. Sandy found the timemaker ever more useful, and she knew she’d hardly considered its potential. 

She came to do all her sleeping in Other Time (first ten hours, but later the total reached twelve and sometimes fourteen). She went jogging every day, and she did at least half of her housework within the field. Vacuuming and laundry were impossible: appliances didn’t work in Other Time. Power would not come from the outlets, and water would not come through the pipes. But there was still dusting and sweeping and mopping and scrubbing and folding … even the dishes could be washed with brief interruptions of normal time for filling and draining the sinks. 

Of course Bruce noticed the change in the home, but Sandy told him it was because the baby was going to sleep in the evening instead of crying, so that gave her a couple more hours for housework. And he believed. The work got done. It happened; therefore it had to be possible. 

From time to time he did ask when she slept; she told him that work was slow, and she was able to sleep a lot while on call at her nursing station. And she said she took long naps during the day—had the children on a good schedule. He told their friends and relatives that his wife was a marvel of organization and energy.

Sandy thought she should have gloried. She had achieved her definition of the successful homemaker/career woman. But in truth she [p.89]despaired, because she achieved it only by stretching every day to forty hours or more. There were women out there, she knew, that did it all in twenty-four. And once her best friend, who had three children under four, came over to her spotless home and cried and confessed she could never make it, could never be a success as a wife and housekeeper. Sandy stared at the floor. Neither can I.  It’s all a façade. 

In her uneasiness Sandy tried to restrict her use of Other Time. But there wasn’t really any time wasted in the first place. She wasn’t watching television, or reading newspapers, or even keeping up with things like her art work or magazine subscriptions. It was just the basics of a full-time job and full-time motherhood. There was nothing to cut out. 

Then came a hot summer afternoon when Sandy turned on the timemaker and went to bed, but found the heat oppressive and removed most of her clothing. She awakened some time later, groggy and congested. She stumbled to her feet, threw on a robe, and wandered into the kitchen to get a drink. But as the water poured into her glass she stared at it: the water shouldn’t run in Other Time. She reached for her pack. It was not around her waist. Had she left the timemaker on the bed, and walked out of the field? She gripped the countertop. How? She’d thought if she left the field she would freeze, like the pebble in the air. But she hadn’t. 

She hurried back to the bedroom, wondering, anxious, yet unprepared. When she reached the doorway she dropped her glass in shock and stared. 

There on the bed was the quilt her grandmother had made for her—pieced in the wedding ring pattern—fading, unraveling, disintegrating before her eyes; she saw the sheets crumbling into frayed pieces and dust, and the mattress shredding, pierced by rusting, broken springs. In the midst of it all the cracked and faded waist-pack settled into the wreckage of the bed, showing through its splitting seams the bulge of the timemaker. 

Sandy lunged for it, lunged into the bubble of silence and grabbed the device and turned it off, and backed away from the bed in horror. How long, in dry, weatherless air, to age a bed like that? A hundred years, two hundred, three? She realized she hadn’t understood Other Time. She’d thought when she activated the timemaker that normal time continued within its field, and everywhere else time stood still. Now she realized that time continued as always outside the field, and within the [p.90]field it was greatly accelerated. She’d been gone maybe three minutes.And if so, around a hundred years of Other Time had passed for every minute of standard time.

The implications were terrifying. She trembled and bit her lip, comprehending what would have happened if she had left Nathan in the field—for even a moment, the blink of an eye. So many times she had fed him, rocked him, changed his diaper in Other Time. If even once she had set the timemaker down and stepped away … 

Then another thought forced itself upon her. She aged in Other Time. Just like the bed. She entered it several times a day to sleep and clean house, and came out hours older. She reached up to feel the lines of her face. Her life span would be measured in hours—not in sunsets, not in birthdays. And with forty·five hour days … in fifteen years her children would be teenagers, her husband forty, and she would be the equivalent of over fifty. When Bruce turned fifty she would be seventy-two, and would catch her mother in age. She felt her hair, imagined herself graying, bent and tired, watching a husband young enough to be her son watch the younger women; caring for children young enough to be her grandchildren. Imagining grandchildren she might never see. 

With loathing she put the timemaker down on the dresser and stared at it. It had seemed so easy, so painless to use, but the cost was terrible. If she stopped … how could she stop? What could she give up? Not sleep: she could cut down an hour or two, but no more. Not child care. Housekeeping? And listen to the neighbors speculate that she’d lapsed into depression, taken up soap operas, had a breakdown of sorts? “Too much stress. She just couldn’t cope.” 

She could quit work and have Bruce take out student loans. But how could she tell him she couldn’t handle work when she’d clearly been handling it so well? How could she plead stress and fatigue when she’d functioned with no sign of it? How could she ever go back? 

Other Time had become an addiction—time abuse. Like the minister she’d read about who ruined his life taking speed and sedatives so he could work harder and longer than anyone else and look good. He had his drugs. She had her timemaker. It would cut just as many years from her life. 

She considered showing Bruce the device, telling him the whole story. But he was desperately pressed in his studies, struggling to do well in a demanding program. If he knew of the device, he would use it—first to keep up with his classes, later to put in the rigorous hours [p.91]required in an engineering firm. He would be addicted more certainly and more completely than she; and then she would be the one with the ancient companion. She would be the early widow.

She did not trust him to use the timemaker with discretion. She did not trust herself. But she had to use it—at least for now. To begin with, she had to replace the bed and bedding, and get throw rugs to cover the disintegrated carpet underneath. She had no money for them; she’d have to “borrow.” And then she’d have to think of something to tell Bruce. 

And even after that was done she wouldn’t be able to cope with a sudden return to the restrictions of the normal day. But she would have to cut down her use of the timemaker. 

If I only use it to catch up on sleep, nothing else … sleep doesn’t age a person. Sleep heals, makes a person healthy, makes them live longer. I’ll die a lot faster from stress and lack of sleep than from longer-than-normal days. 

With this resolve she quieted her misgivings about early aging. Itwas not so easy to quiet her guilt, after she “borrowed” the new bed and bedding and lied to Bruce about it. 

And her resolve proved difficult to keep. On Monday night when the children were both screaming, and she sat on the couch trying to bounce Nathan on her arm and hold Alicia in her lap (and both wailed), she gave in and reached for the time maker. Better for the children. She had to get them to sleep if she was to clean house during normal time.

On Tuesday morning her sister-in-law came unannounced when toys cluttered the living room, unwashed dishes filled the sink, and muddy footprints marked the kitchen floor. So Sandy held her motionless on the front step while she cleaned for three hours in the blink of an eye. 

Wednesday and Thursday she held herself to her commitment to cut back and tried to compensate with speed and efficiency. But much of the housework didn’t get done. No matter how she organized or how hastily she worked, she could not keep up the housekeeping without the timemaker.

By Friday, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate, she braced herself for an attack when Bruce walked in the door, irritated already by the stress of midterms. 

“I see we had a tornado today. In fact it seems this week we’ve had several.” 

[p.92]She glared at him, knowing he believed all the housework could be done in two hours—for she had “proved” it possible. 

“I do the best I can, with these kids.” 

“It seems some days are a lot better than others.” 

“They are.” 

“Well, what’s the difference? Is there something special about Friday afternoon TV?” 

“I never watch TV!” 

“Well, what is it then? What’s going on this week?”

Sandy struggled—unsuccessfully—to keep her voice even. “Did it ever occur to you that I spend every waking moment changing diapers and doing laundry and shopping and cooking—and I have to sleep sometime because then I spend the night working to put you through school-—and sometimes there isn’t any time left over for cleaning?”

“Then how come you did it all without any trouble last week? Or Tuesday? I know you can do it. I’ve seen you do it. And maybe it’s hard. I know how it is—grad school isn’t exactly too easy either. But in the end it just comes down to effort.”

She could not answer—she had no answer to give—so she whirled and hurried from the room, found her timemaker, and escaped.

She cried for a while, for she could not see a way out. When she had spent herself, she slept for a while and then ate a carton of yogurt. But it didn’t make her feel better. And she wasn’t ready to go back. 

 

She decided to go for a walk, so she put on her shoes and jacket. She stepped outside into the cool autumn air. The sun rested on the rim of the mountains; it would not set. 

She walked down the sidewalk and across the lawn, through a world that stood silent at her command. Every person she encountered was a mime-mannequin, holding an impossible position with perfect control. 

She wandered up to the back fence of the apartment complex, followed it to the base of the foothills, and climbed over it. The hillside and valley below were beautiful. The leaves were turning to gold and orange, and across the valley the sunlight silvered the surface of the lake. She wished she could see it up close, for the lake would be covered with waves, standing still.

Sandy found a trail and followed it through tangles of oak and mahogany on the mountainside. She began to see animals. She examined robins and jays and a tanager in the air, a cottontail suspended mid·leap, and squirrels and chipmunks frozen on the rocks. 

[p.93]And then, as she wandered higher and higher, she came upon deer. There were five of them together: four spikes and a four-point buck. They were standing about, posed as if browsing on twigs and grass.  Sandy walked up to them slowly, as though she might frighten them, and studied them with delight. So close. Such detail. How would it be to see them running? She turned off the timemaker (such sudden noise!) and they came to life, startled, and sprang away from her. She froze them mid-leap, then studied them longer: their bulging muscles, willow-thin legs, open mouths—they were beautiful. She wanted to capture them somehow, at least take pictures. Why not? She could go and get her camera and they would still be here.

She started back down the mountain, wishing she had a better camera. If she did she could take pictures close up, perfectly composed, bracketed for perfect exposure, perfectly focused without telephoto distortion. They would be worth money. Wildlife photographers spent hours, days, even weeks walking the hills, waiting in blinds, rigging shutter-release traps. With her timemaker, she could capture in minutes what they spent weeks searching for, and do it better. With practice she could become the best. And then sell to the best magazines—Natural History, International Wildlife, National Geographic—and travel around the world on assignment.

She reached the apartment, fetched her little disk camera, and hurried back up the mountain. She shot all the film she had, then just stared at the deer, seeing in them a future waiting to be taken.

But she’d have to have better equipment. Of course with the timemaker she could “borrow” anything she wanted, anytime. And pay for it later—when she was successful. She wrote down a list of the things she would need …

It was twenty hours before Sandy left Other Time. When she finally returned, the time she had spent and the ideas she’d pursued frightened her. She could be swallowed up entirely by Other Time. And like it. But it would cost her … every hour of it would take away an hour of raising her children, living with her family. Being young.

When she returned to standard time, Bruce was still grouching around the kitchen, and it seemed he held awfully long grudges, though in truth his was only a few moments old. 

Sandy watched him all that day and the next. She watched him snap at the children and throw his clothes in the corner of the bedroom; she watched him play with Alicia and stay up late to wash the dishes. She [p.94]watched the children as well: watched Nathan howling and Nathan cooing; watched Alicia whining and Alicia skipping, with unbounded triumph, for the first time ever. Sandy asked herself what she wanted—really wanted—knowing she could have anything, for a price. 

Sandy thought for several days, and as she did the days grew longer and longer. She allowed herself Other Time to sit on the balcony and study the magazines she hoped to sell to. She spent Other Time visiting camera shops and examining expensive cameras, powerful flash attachments, and specialty lenses. She checked out books on photography and read them. 

The pictures she’d taken came back from the developer. She studied them, and they were good: exciting composition, extraordinary angles.  But the colors were weak, the focus too soft, and there was little depth of field—limitations of the camera. She could do so much better. How she wanted the chance to try, to be not only good, but the best there was. 

And she found herself growing quite comfortable in Other Time. She’d come to like the solitude and the silence, and the power to hold the world in check. At times she craved that power, and the craving frightened her. 

After one fifty-hour day, she sat in the rocking chair, holding the timemaker and staring into its multicolored surface. It could draw my whole life into this bubble where I live alone. She closed her eyes and leaned back. Was that what she wanted—to grow old alone? She’d vowed to cut back, but lately … . She drummed her fingers on the chair arm. I’m losing control; I will have to give it up altogether, or not at all. 

But it seemed impossible to give it up. And how could she get rid of it? Certainly she couldn’t leave it in the dumpster, for just anyone to find. She wouldn’t throw it away. Or bury it: things were unearthed too easily. 

She leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand. She dared not destroy it. It seemed to have an incredible energy source. When she’d left it activated on the bed, several hundred years had passed within its field, and it still worked. She wondered how much longer it would work. Hundreds, thousands of years? And with that kind of power … . Her cousin had suffered third-degree burns when a can of hair spray had exploded in a trash fire. She did not want to know what a crushed or incinerated timemaker would do. 

[p.95]As she thought these things, Alicia came out of her room, stumbled over to Sandy, and crawled in her lap, and Sandy put the timemaker on the floor. Alicia whimpered a little about a nightmare, then snuggled down and went to sleep. Sandy sat and stroked her hair, remembering the first hug, the tentative toddler steps, the day Alicia first said “mama” and “wuv you.” And how she danced in the living room as she watched The Nutcracker for the first time.

“Mommy,” she’d asked afterward, “can I be a ballerina and still be a mommy like you?” 

“Yes, sweetheart. You can.” 

“And when I grow up to be a mommy, will you still watch me dance?” 

“Of course I will. And I’ll watch your children dance, too.” 

Sandy rocked a little faster, turned her head away, and swallowed hard. 

Eventually Sandy put Alicia back into bed. Then she turned on the timemaker, took out a photo album, and pondered its pages. Would it bring her as much happiness to be a world-famous photographer as it would to watch her grandchildren dancing? To share her life and growth and future with her husband? The question made her terribly uncomfortable, and by her uneasiness Sandy knew she was losing the will to change her course. Some instinct within her whispered that real fulfillment would come from relationships, not money or acclaim. But the implications of that feeling were too hard to face. 

She tried to reason that she could use the timemaker sparingly; in time her children would get older and her husband would graduate and the need would diminish; she’d be able to manage without excessive use of Other Time. She’d just use it for photography—her career. Such an extraordinary opportunity. She could hold her use of Other Time to that, surely, and not abuse the timemaker. But she knew the photography would send her away from home for weeks at a time, and might easily consume far more hours of Other Time than housework ever had. And she found herself thinking of the camera she needed, the flash and lenses and tripod, the professional-looking wardrobe. She’d have to have them to get started. She needed them now. And she could have them, with the timemaker. Then there was the breadmaker she wanted, the piano, the camcorder … . Already she’d taken the bed and the bedding. It had been so easy. It was hard now to think about sending the four hundred and sixty dollars to the furniture store, when she knew they’d never ask for it, never know.

[p.96]It would always be like that. Too easy to take. Too easy to postpone paying.

Sandy shook herself. The timemaker was not a gift, not a tool. It was an addiction, a temptation she could not bear. Even now she sat within its field and let it burn away the hours of her life so she could think about it in peace. But still she could not resolve to let it go. 

The next morning, Sandy visited the camera shop again and spent hours there in Other Time and finally took what she wanted: three thousand dollars’ worth of equipment and film. In the evening she walked up into the mountains and spent fifteen hours photographing deer and foxes and black bear in the red light of sunset against the backdrop of dying leaves. 

Then she needed cash to develop so many negatives. She walked to a convenience store, waited until the register was open and activated the timemaker. She eased around to the back of the  register (so no one else would be included in the field) and stared at the piles of bills in the drawers. She considered the c1ean-cut young cashier who would come up short when his shift ended; she stared at the balding man buying ice cream for his girls (he looked a little like her father). She could not bring herself to reach into the register. She tried three times with trembling hands. But her face grew pale and her forehead beaded in a cold sweat, and finally she backed into the corner between the wall and the video game, and sat down on the floor and covered her face.

She had let herself become a thief. She trembled with the shame of  it. A thief. The timemaker had taken her integrity. If she kept it, it would also take her youth and her family. 

She went home and used the timemaker to return the camera equipment to the store. She didn’t know what to do with the exposed film, so she put it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag and hoped she could squeeze enough money out of the budget some day to get it developed. She needed to; she still owed over five hundred dollars for film and bedding. 

She turned off the timemaker. If she was to be rid of it, it would have to be now, before she rationalized away her resolve. But what to do with it? How could she be rid of it without the risk of someone else finding it? 

Then she remembered a place she had visited, two years before at a family reunion. She took her children to a baby-sitter. Then she collected a flashlight, a square of foam rubber, and a roll of duct tape.  [p.97]She put them with the timemaker into a paper bag and drove north, into American Fork Canyon, to the parking lot of Timpanogos Cave. She stepped out of the car into the cooling air of the shaded canyon and stared at the mountain. The mountain was solid. And old. 

Sandy took her purse and paper bag and paid the fee at the visitor’s center. Then she waited her turn and paced the floor, rolling the top of the paper bag up and down, up and down, until she was finally allowed to pass the gate and start up the steep trail to the caves. It was a long climb. She walked too fast and had to stop and rest several times, and each time she wondered about turning back; she chewed her lip and worked the bag until the top frayed and shredded. But she held her resolve and pressed forward. 

A tour group waited at the entrance, but she did not join them. She wanted to be alone. So she turned on the timemaker, slipped through the door and walked down, by the feeble light of her flashlight, into the very heart of the mountain. In the darkness and the damp she found herself shivering, but more from tension than the cold. 

By a wall of curtained limestone she found a crevasse, as she had remembered. It was only a foot or two wide but it angled down into the depths of the earth, into depths that swallowed up her flashlight’s beam and gave back no reflection. She stared into that darkness for a long time. As she had hoped, the crevasse was too narrow for most people to crawl into. 

She drew the timemaker from the bag and held it, hefting its weight, stroking its smoothness. Then she began to wrap it with duct tape. It was activated—she hoped it would burn itself out eventually—and she did not want it to come uncoupled when it fell. She folded around it a layer of foam rubber so it wouldn’t break, and again she taped it securely. Then she held it one last moment in the silence and the stillness it created, closing her eyes, forcing reluctant hands to hold it out, out … could she really do this? Fame, travel, money … . She opened her fingers one by one-one for Alicia, one for Nathan, one for Bruce—and let go. The time maker fell into the crevasse with a whispered thud and rolled downward. She followed it with the flashlight beam as it bumped and slid, almost caught in a narrow place … but tipped sideways and finally disappeared into the darkness. After that she could hear it bouncing and rolling until the sounds faded into distant whispers, and then into the almost-silence of the dripping, echoing cave. 

[p.98]Sandy left the cave and started home, to struggle with her Iimitations, to work off the debts of her conscience, and to share life with her husband and children and her children’s children. 

And as she walked down the trail she pictured the timemaker. She imagined that it had wedged at the top of a terrace formation. She saw the tape crack, the foam rubber rot to dust, the water in the ten-foot bubble of time condense, drip, pool, evaporate, and condense again—and again and again. A few formations above the timemaker dissolved, and the flowstone around it thickened, creeping up and encasing the timemaker. 

It should burn out quickly. Sandy calculated that thirty thousand years of Other Time could pass before she had dinner tonight. Thirty thousand years—and nature would take very little notice.