Everything relative

Time is rela­ti­ve. Albert Ein­stein came to this con­clu­si­on more than a hundred years ago.

And just how right he was was demons­tra­ted once again at today’s town mee­ting in Miss Pattie’s dancing school: Tay­lor was in top form and let a veri­ta­ble thun­der­storm of incom­pre­hen­si­ble regu­la­ti­ons, pro­ce­du­ral ins­truc­tions and para­graphs rain down on us hel­p­less par­ti­ci­pan­ts. Seconds and minu­tes stret­ched into infinity.

What it was all about ori­gi­nal­ly, I and pro­ba­b­ly all the others pre­sent had alre­a­dy com­ple­te­ly for­got­ten at this point. Not so Tay­lor: he bab­b­led, gesti­cu­la­ted, waved papers and docu­ments, occa­sio­nal­ly poin­ted at non-exis­tent flip­charts and from time to time tur­ned so red that I was about to jump up and use the Heim­lich on him.

I let my eyes wan­der. Miss Pat­ty, who pre­si­ded over the mee­ting, sat slum­ped power­less­ly in her chair next to Taylor’s cathe­ter, hol­ding her hands clas­ped in her lap.

In the row in front of me, Babet­te and Morey appeared to be nap­ping head to head. Gypsy and Andrew sat with their arms fold­ed in front of their chests, scow­ling into space.

Dean was typ­ing away on his smart­phone, Sophie was rea­ding a music maga­zi­ne, and Zach, who was here today wit­hout Lane, was alter­na­te­ly picking his left ear and his right ear, and still would have thought all this was ‚cool‘ if someone had asked him.

Kirk and Lulu were making out and that was pro­ba­b­ly the best that could be made of this situa­ti­on. And whe­re were Lore­lei and Luke any­way? Tho­se two real­ly had a knack for avo­i­ding the most bor­ing and ten­acious gathe­rings here in the litt­le town.

I glan­ced at my watch. By the feel of it, it was long past mid­night, but no, the hands were at 9:15 pm and Tay­lor was chat­te­ring and chat­te­ring and chattering.

Sud­den­ly, someone from out­side pushed open the front door. In the ope­ning appeared Rory and her half-sis­ter April Nar­di­ni. „Sor­ry, too late!“ shou­ted April into the hall. „What did we miss?“

For a few seconds, the­re was com­ple­te silence in the dance school. All eyes were fixed on the two new­co­mers. Taylor’s words were appar­ent­ly stuck in his throat; the others, most of whom must have even fal­len asleep, had to gather them­sel­ves and deter­mi­ne whe­re they actual­ly were.

Miss Pat­ty, howe­ver, was the most frigh­ten­ed. As if struck by light­ning, she shot up, grab­bed the small woo­den ses­sio­nal gavel, and used it to tap Taylor’s cathe­ter seve­ral times. „We’­re voting now!“ she shou­ted ham­me­ring into the hall.

Gre­at, we’­re all against it!“ rang out Gypsy’s voice. A many-voi­ced „Right!“ and „She’s right!“ rang through the room. As if on cue, ever­yo­ne got up and hur­ried­ly left Miss Pattie’s dance school. Zach nod­ded a mum­bled ‚cool‘ good­bye to me. April and Rory shrug­ged their should­ers and dis­ap­peared out­side as well.

Final­ly, only Tay­lor and I were left. He had wat­ched from the stage as the con­ven­tio­neers strea­med out, moti­on­less and open-mou­thed. After regai­ning his com­po­sure, he tur­ned to me: „Mr. Kim, I know you to be a respon­si­ble and abo­ve all honest citi­zen who would never fob me off with a lie. Plea­se tell me just one thing:

My heart began to pound. What could it be that Tay­lor wan­ted to know from me now? He con­tin­ued after a small pau­se, „What exact­ly did I say that would make ever­yo­ne here run?“

I brea­thed a sigh of reli­ef. If time was rela­ti­ve, so was hones­ty. I would pass this test with distinc­tion, „Exact­ly? Honest­ly, I have no idea, Taylor!“

With tho­se words, I too wal­ked out into the warm Stars Hol­low spring evening. Time had resu­med its nor­mal pace and so after only five minu­tes I was stan­ding out­side the front door to Kim’s Antiques.

As I ente­red, Mrs. Kim was ratt­ling dis­hes around in the kit­chen. „Hi honey!“ she cal­led across the store in gree­ting, „that was rela­tively quick with the gathe­ring today.“

Rela­tively? You said it!“, I retor­ted and clo­sed the door.