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The Last Grain of Sand

Part One:

The Last Grain of Sand

hourglass 2The room was dimly lit by sunlight that for the moment was partly hidden behind clouds which had, only moments earlier, begun to race in from the northwest. An hourglass sat atop the table, the sand within it moving soundlessly from top half to bottom half, piling there in a slithering slope of gray. I watched intently, as the sand seemed to roll from the tiny hill in slow motion, and wondered how many grains of sand the hourglass might contain.

The hill of sand shifted and then, as if summonsed by the sudden movement, the sun found a break in the clouds and flashed through the window to my right, turning the pile of sand a startling white, and causing the gold pillars surrounding the glass to radiate brilliantly.  Suddenly there seemed to be more to the apparatus than merely a means of telling of time.

I saw it as a guide by which life might once have been measured; power and wealth the standards by which it was able to stand; the fragile glass held tightly in the grasp of the sturdy structure. The grains of sand were all the lives that touched one another as they moved within the boundaries of the solid columns and flowed through the narrow passage in the glass. Trapped, yet able to mingle, and touch, and… that was all.

The grains of sand had no say in their journey, and yet they were a part of something. I wondered what might be the real purpose to their travels; was it simply to show the watcher—the builder—the passage of time? Was it so important He know what was left of each hour? At some point, could he—would he—decide not to turn the hourglass.

The last grain of sand dropped through the passageway, and I turned the hourglass over. As I placed it back onto the table I noticed something I’d not noticed before; it was casting a shadow across the table. The sunlight coming through the window was the cause, and I saw a whole new world in the shadow; a world in which grains of sand flowing through a tiny opening had new meaning. The hourglass and the millions of tiny particles of sand were only players in a much larger production. My mind whirled, as I tried to grasp the larger meaning.

As if sensing my excitement and fearing I might discover the secret of time, the sun ducked behind another cloud—a dark cloud—and I could no longer see the sands flowing. I listened, thinking perhaps in the near darkness, I might hear them. I heard nothing.

I looked down at the luminescent glow of the hands on the expensive watch I’d taken from a bloated body that morning, and realized I’d wasted the better part of two hours staring at sand. Pushing myself away from the table, I laid the hourglass on its side then left the empty shop. Outside, a steady rain had begun to fall.

The streets were empty, and the realization I was totally alone seemed driven home by the acrid smell of the rain. I gagged on the odor, spit blood onto the broken sidewalk then moved around the pile of bodies at the curb and walked between the abandoned cars that littered the street. I cast no shadow.

The taste of sour blood—my own—was thick on my tongue. I felt weak—I’d grown weaker with each passing day—and the thought came suddenly to mind that perhaps I might be the last grain of sand… and I was about to fall. (To read the continuation of this story, click here —> Hope )

Part two: Hope

Part three: Like a Fairy Tale

Part four: Then There Were Three

Part five: Cinnamon

Part six: L. Aliens in the Morning

Part seven: Dearest Wife

Part eight: Dearest John

Part nine: L. Angel

Part ten: The Books

Part eleven: Play Money

( Image Credit: ) Hourglass

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