“Forever is Composed of Nows” – Emily Dickinson

The morning twilight is hushed, not weary or humming but heavy with sleep and calm. In the toothless planes of the city, rolling like the red earth under water, three lights turn on and flicker, lighting up the hulk of a skyscraper that blots out the stars. One by one, the lights wink and sigh, matching the burning sky. The world inhales, a deep sigh before true dawn, and the first light goes off.

The Athlete lopes into the gloom-like shadow — he has not slept yet, and will not for hours to come. He knows the true beauty of twilights because he measures his endless days by them. On the long walks under the midnight sun in the north, he won’t be able to tell whether it is dawn or dusk because he will be living in forevers. So he cherishes now, and unfolds his great legs to speed towards the steel and glass gym that represents ever changing, ever familiar cycles of pain and joy and growth. The red of his soles flashes dully again and again until it takes on a soft sheen and spreads…

Smoothly it spreads across her cupid’s bow — the Lawyer purses her lips and touches the forming crows-feet that are forming. Each new one feels like a medal of honor. She smiles in the new silence; the Athlete does not sleep and so she sleeps fitfully, aware of his warm, padding feet on the floor above. Today, she conquers the courtroom, as she does every day. She carries her mind like a weapon and sharpens it daily with the frills she has been taught to hide under. A sheen of perfume, a layer of lipstick, the sweep of light, scented powder that catches fire in the morning sun as she steps out with a sigh. The morning silence is oppressive; she must be born.

The Father doesn’t stir as his neighbors leave, but he smiles when the Teacher bustles past his door. He will stay here all day, cradling the seeds of a revolution while she grunts and babbles at the visions she sees in the twilight air. As his neighbors’ lights turn off and their doors lock and their footsteps recede, he will stay steadfast. Waiting to be called into action, he is reborn every second of the day, always finding new wonder in her toothless smile.

The Teacher never remembers her morning twilights. They pass in a blur of burnt toast, slathered in a rich, orange marmalade, and percolating tea so dark it tastes like tar. The headache doesn’t pass in the soupy morning air, nor does she look up. Not until she reaches the car and a sparrow flies by; looking to the sky she sees the gold and red of the sun and watches the twilight die before driving away. It’s hidden there, she knows, like the stars. Out-shone, but not extinguished.

“And Eternity in an Hour” – William Blake

The blazing sun of midday and the blinding moon of midnight are not made for the contemplation of forever; these are times dedicated to now. The Athlete exceeds at now, even as his eyes lock on the distant mountains and the future stretches out its hands. The burning of his lungs and the ache in his legs are roots which bury themselves deep into soil and span the world. Never at home but always connected, he is the star around which his own universe revolves and, because of this, is immune to his own changes. Only the sight of the Lawyer draws him into the real world — a flash of familiarity that turns him on his axis and changes night to day.

She juts her chin like a soldier off to war and strides past, cradling a coffee like it can cure all that ails the world…

And maybe it does. The heat pushes through her skin and flesh, burrowing into her bones until all she can feel is the tingle of it in her hand, like a weight. A miniature sun that can light the way, even as this client slips from her grasp. New horizons wait, always, but every ending is bitter sweet. The sun is high above when she steps into the marble hall — a new kind of twilight that chills to the bone. The misery of the walls can be a weight on the soul, but she knows how to wear it when needed and shrugs it off in the evening twilight while the Teacher frowns at her papers.

There is a miniature twilight in the afternoon when the children leave and the Teacher is left alone with her thoughts. Their youth is not energizing, but draining — the happy fatigue it leaves is the result of understanding. She is changing, just like them, and it will never be the same, but when the dust is settling and the small chairs are empty it is a sweet melancholy. Time is less of a river than an ocean and the depths are yet to come. She thinks of the Father, and he is thinking of her…

The park bench is dry and cold underneath his legs, blisteringly so, despite the heat of the day. When the time comes, he wonders, will she guide his child forward, exchanging their quiet dusk and endless days of summer for the hectic dawns and dusks of learning? Will he even recognize his little one when she comes home each night with her mother’s face and a mouthful of this woman’s words? Will he need to reinvent himself daily to match the even spinning wheels of her mind, or can he be the center of her spinning world and shape her like clay on the wheel?

He stands, smooths his jeans, and tucks in her blanket as those ocean eyes close to the sun. Dusk is falling, and a new Twilight is gathering them in its gentle fist. The Athlete hurtles by — does he ever stop?

“There can be Great Joy Before the Night” – A.D. Aliwat

The Father and his Sprout walk slowly in the twilight, and smell the moon blooming flowers on the air. Their life is the purest expression of forever — the cyclical darkness and light makes no difference to their routine. The sun and rain have no say in their changes. They grow apart and together with every hour, following the tracks of the Athlete all the way back home to the shadow of their tower which is now bursting with light an activity. Though the inhabitants leave in solitude, the dusk twilight brings a swarm. They join the crowd and slip into the foyer, the elevator, where Sprout remains resistant to the coos of their companions. She looks at him with changeling eyes, and in her flicks and huffs, he sees the multi-verse in incarnate; every woman she could become lives in that toothless smile.

Two lights bloom in the gathering dark as the sun hides from the beginning of a new day. Even the Father illuminates his nights. The Lawyer comes after the swarm has subsided — smiling with the promise of new ground to break, and a dose of liquid courage, she carries a parcel of warm food to her home. The smooth, grey planes of her habitat are timeless. Here, the twilight is endless and she can suspend the trials of the day and indulge in the gentle night.

The Athlete packs his case and smiles when her door closes. With a smile he stamps his foot twice and waits. The time it takes changes over and over, like all things, but she always responds. He doesn’t wait for the reply; it will come. The suitcase flaps shut and the reply comes — a tentative knock on the door. She presents a parcel of warm food and blinks at him, dark skin shining brighter than the sun when she smiles, and just like that, his universe tilts again, and a new chapter begins in the mellowing, blue twilight.

And when the Father sleeps, Sprout growing in his grasp as steadily and surely as the trickle of glaciers to the ocean, the Teacher brings herself home filled with the weary aches of the day and the heavy promise of the future. She blinks at the violet sky and takes a deep breath, pulling in the cool future with the kind of sigh that has moved the world for centuries. When her door clicks shut, the light drops away and the tower sparkles like a diamond, reflecting rays of potential across the inky city.