Turned To Stone ..(bridge series#19)

For a moment both women turned to stone when their laughter was interrupted by voices on the television in the corner of the bar.

“….several men killed during explosion of off-shore oil…thousands of gallons per second pumping into the gulf….”

Coral grabs her wooden life box under the cash register, and sees the black spirals she carved endlessly until her fingers bled the day the alligator crossed the bridge.

 Now she knows what the Time Keeper was trying to tell her, she tries to control her panic driven mind, worried that she should have done something, anything, her heartbeat pumps faster and faster until she faints and

she comes round the minute her head makes contact with the floor and stands up and smoothes her apron with her jittery hands, a professional once again.

She remembers. It is not her job to change, only to record, only to stand witness. With a sigh she resigns herself to tending the bar.

“Are you OK? the other woman asks her.

“Yes, No, it’s complicated” Coral replies as she runs her fingers over the designs on the box.

“What is that?”

“Oh this?” Coral realizes that no one has ever seen this box but herself, and somehow she is grateful for the chance to share it with someone, it feels as if a burden is lessening already.

“This is my box, it’s, well, everyone that comes Here has one, but this one is the oldest, it is sort of a time capsule? I’ve carved on this box for” she loses her train of thought at the notion of Time.

The woman begins looking at the carvings, she too is interested in some of the designs, she seems particularly interested in the Mayan and Anasazi symbols.

“My God, some of these are ancient beyond what has even been discovered! Is that an IPOD in a hieroglyph?”

She notices that Coral is not listening to her, she is looking at the television again, a sad smile on her face as crocodile tears cascade down her cheeks.

“Hey Coral? I am probably going to leave for awhile but I’ll probably come back” (she is already back peddling across to the door) how long will you be Here?” she waits long enough to hear the reply, and somehow regrets it.

Coral slowly turns her head towards the voice, slow enough that she misses the woman’s hasty departure but her words do not, the door to the tavern bangs shut in the same moment that her heart turns to stone.

“Me? I’ll be Here Until the End of Time”.

Somewhere in Louisiana an alligator as ancient as the land itself raises his head, he too sheds a tear before retreating into blackness, a blackness that will end in eternity.

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