Artifact 2: Artifact from The Golden City
In the time without time, there was only gold, what the sun touched became gold, solidly, if only momentarily. The sun with her nimble limbs found holes and she crept, she bent, made herself impossible, just to get to us, inside, o she was a cruel one!, but we were already solid, immobile, statues of glimmering brilliance.
There was a time before time, when our whole city was gold, golden, and we could not escape.
But when the sun went away, when she hid, went into hiding, the gold dissolved and we could live again, run in circles and do jumping jacks, play tag and have tea, sex and discuss differential equations, though we could see none of it.
And so it was for many centuries, though we had no time then, had no way of measuring, we knew only of the sun and her golden curse and the not sun and our ensuing freedom.
We knew as long as there was sun, we could not escape.
We knew when there was not sun, we could not escape either, but we could move, which was better than not moving.
Although we knew all this, the sun was capricious. We had no way of knowing when the sun would come and when the not sun would come, we could not guess how long we would be statues and how long we could be not statues.
Of course, in the time without time, we did not use words like gold or sun or statues. We had other words, but this is no longer that time, that time without time, better to use your words, pedestrian.
In the time without time, our lives were complicated, complex, full of questions and wonder, magic, arbitrariness.
But then, one among us said she could create a mechanism to tell us when to expect the sun and the not sun. This person called the sun daytime and the not sun nighttime. We laughed. We said the sun was full of whimsy, she defies expectation, and we were right. The one among us who believed she could measure the sun, she was a fool, but she gave us time, and then, we were no longer a time without time.
And that changed everything.
Lily Hoang is the author of The Evolutionary Revolution, Changing (recipient of a 2009 PEN/Beyond Margins Award), and Parabola (winner of the 2006 Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest). She currently lives in Canada.