Time Marches On
Carmen Lau

You saw Mr. S, the beloved and influential high school music teacher, in the sky one day, standing on a particularly low-hanging cloud above the A&W. He was playing his saxophone, having a grand old time.

You said, "Mr. S., teach me something about life." You were down that day, particularly so. You were thinking about disappearing.

"Oh, young fella," he said, though you were not a young fella but a middle-aged woman. He laughed merrily. "You ought to know life is all about music. Life is all about love. Life is wonderful."

"But it can be a real downer," you said. Your neck ached from looking up.

"True, but the silver lining is always there, know what I mean?" He tapped the edge of the cloud with his heel and laughed boisterously. He said, a bit more quietly, "Of course, I'm not saying death isn't fine too — there's no need to fear it. Just look at me!" He blew on his sax.

"Is death better than life?" There was no harm scouting for information.

He set his mouth in a line, weighing words behind his kindly round visage.

"No, young fella, I wouldn't say that exactly. What you need to understand is that both are ultimately beautiful. Life is precious and ought to be treasured. Yet there's no need to fear death. Yet there's no need to rush into death, either!"

"All right, but." You couldn't think of what else to ask. Not wanting to leave the sentence unfinished, you said, "I'm a woman."

He nodded. "Go forth, young fella. Carpe diem!" A long ribbon of "My Favorite Things" trailed out of the gleaming bell of his instrument. The cloud rose, taking him with it.

You went into the A&W and got a root beer float. You tried to enjoy the float, but the taste was something you'd already tasted before; the cold against your tongue was not refreshing. You finished it without knowing you had finished it. No one else was in there. You felt monstrous for being in there. What was wrong with you? Why did you have to be so disgusting? So worthless?

You pondered Mr. S's words. According to him, everything was going to be fine. Everything already was fine. Everything's going to be fine, young fella. Carpe diem.

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