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Holes like a sieve

Writing by Ellen Willott. Illustration by Carlos Finlay.

When I was little, I decided that I would always remember a moment. It wasn't a particularly interesting moment, but I decided that out of sheer will, I wouldn't let that moment slip into the void that most days and years slip into. I had reached the age where time starts to exist.

Before that, dinner time or bed time corresponded with the positions of the clock's big hand and small hand. We all knew that. For a while, my parents would wake up to the cries of 'the bunny has opened its eyes!' as small children ran into the room. Time was a rabbit clock whose eyes opened to the time my parents set it in the morning.

But at some point, I became acquainted with time as the unremitting thing that carried me along and would stop for no small girl. Even as I convinced myself that I had been ten for two years, it was more because I couldn't remember being nine than remembering two years of being ten. A logical conclusion to fill in missing blanks, but not one that I quite believed. An evidence, rather than hypothesis-lead theory.

I must have realised with some disdain that all of these hours that felt so important when I was living them couldn't be retrieved from my memory. My stake in time was slippery.

There were even some memories that were shot from third person: me, rattling down a hill behind my brother on a tricycle. I'm on it, but I'm also watching me. So that can't be a memory.

Strictly speaking, I don't really remember this realisation of time. I remember going from a timelessness into a time of time. I may well have made up this wide-eyed, eureka moment. Or at least edited it a few times before letting it lapse into memory, to be picked over again as an original rather than photocopy.

I do know that I decided to remember a moment. But I can't for the life of me remember that moment.

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