Time and Space by Shireen Jeejeebhoy

Posted on Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chapter 1

Hands grab my shoulders, my arms, my waist. They twist my skirt up. A faint thuck-thuck sounds as my iPod touch clatters to the concrete from my shot-open hand. Shock silences my scream and freezes my arms and legs. The foreign hands drag me down the alleyway. Too late, my vocal chords vibrate, for we’re not in the alleyway anymore. We’re in a white place where the white walls hum into the space.

I scream.

I thrash.

The white walls wash into the space to vacuum the sound out of my throat.

The hands release me, and I stumble to the luminous floor.

The hands’ owners step around me from behind to stand in front of me. I blink and scramble up and see three skinny twenty-something boys with double-espresso-latté-coloured skin smirking at me, their necks sticking up from skin-hugging white suits that cover everything but their heads and chestnut hair. They look identical. Yet as my eyes adjust to this bright place with its strange soughing and electric smell, I see they’re not. One has a big nose; one a small one. One has cupid-bow lips; one a straight line. One has long lashes; one has thick brows.

They shove me backward, and a seat edge grabs my legs. I sit down hard. One reaches toward the wall closest to him and plucks out a limp piece of white fabric that hadn’t been there before. Air catches in my throat. He throws it at me and tells me to put it on.

I almost drop it but make myself hold on. I look around and cannot see a door. They cackle.

“No escape,” says one.

“No door you can find,” says another.

They laugh harder. They’re right. I see no door, no way out. I examine the limp fabric, and abruptly it’s a suit hanging from my hands. I drop it in horror. They bend double, they’re laughing so hard. My heart beats rapidly against my ribs. I gulp for air. I can’t escape, and I dare not disobey. I pick up the suit with my right forefinger and thumb and eye it warily, trying to control my breathing. It doesn’t change; it simply hangs from my finger and thumb. I take a firmer grip on it and nothing happens. I must do what they say. I inspect it and find its feet.

One stops laughing long enough to bark, “Put it on!”

I jerk. I glance up at him and immediately back to the suit. I don’t know whether to keep my shoes on or not and then decide it’s their stuff, what do I care if the heels of my pumps ruin it. I don’t want to take them off. I let the suit fall out of my hand, button up my cardigan, retrieve the suit from the floor, find the legs of it, and insert my feet, right foot first. My shoe gets caught in the stretchy, shiny fabric, and I struggle.

They stop laughing and watch me maliciously.

I try again. Suddenly the right leg of the suit opens up and my foot slides down easily into the foot of the suit. I squeak but duplicate the movement with my left foot in its shoe. I stand up and start to pull the suit up. It’s like panty hose, and my skirt’s bulk is bigger than the suit. I try to stuff it in because I’m not taking my skirt off. As I stuff one section in to one leg, another section flops back out. The boys crack up, but thankfully the walls absorb the highest pitch of their cackles. I persevere, pushing more skirt into each leg of the suit, trying not to expose the ugly topside of my panty hose. The suit bulges unattractively; lumps and bumps sprout wherever I’ve been able to shove in my skirt. Finally I have the suit pulled up to my waist, and I’m exhausted. I pause to catch my breath. And I look down at the results of my effort. My skirt in the suit is like a muffin top and feels just as bloated.

The suit morphs.

The lumps and bumps disappear.

My skirt is sucked down into the legs.

I suck in air, suck in air. I scream and scream and scream. I cannot hear myself. I cannot even feel the screams in my throat. But I can’t close my mouth or stop exhaling through my vocal chords. I want this awful suit off.

Suddenly I’m sitting down, the wind blown out of me.

One boy growls in to my face, “Finish.”

I wipe my face from forehead to chin, stand up, and pull on the arms and shrug into the shoulders of the suit. I reach for the zipper to close the front, but there’s no zipper, no buttons, no Velcro. I frown at this puzzle. I hear a choked guffaw and look up. They say nothing; they are too entertained by my perturbation. When I look back down to find some way to close the suit, I see the front edges of the suit moving toward each other, fusing, leaving no seam, making the suit into one fabric. My chest heaves hysterically.


I look up at the boys. They step back, and in sync, their upper eyelids drop slowly, deliberately, stay shut for shorter than a second but longer than a normal blink, then as they open, out of the back of the boys’ suits arise hoods that pull over their heads, cover their faces, and fuse with their necklines so that the white fabric becomes one from their feet to their heads. Yet I can see the surfaces and edges of their faces clearly. My heaves turn into quick shallow breaths. One blinks again, that same slow blink. I feel something wispy cover my face. I reach up to touch my cheeks. I don’t feel my skin. I feel something soft yet not there, something that prickles and lets my fingers sink into it so that I can feel the edges of my cheekbones. I see clearly, as if nothing is covering me, yet I know I’m as covered as they are. My lungs don’t want to work anymore, my heart pounds to get out of its rib cage, and I become dizzy.

“Sit down.”

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Genre – Science Fiction / Time Travel

Rating – PG13

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Website http://jeejeebhoy.ca/


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