Three Strangers

March 4, 2012

The Mayans believed that time was just a way to enslave man’s mind into only concentrating on the future. When sitting in a dark room alone, an average man would only ponder their future and what has not yet occurred, but never what is happening now. Relying solely on our future is what destroys relationships and blinds us from the truth. Instead of spending the time we have with our significant other, we spend it thinking about the possible future with them.

Now, go back into your dark room. Replace the room with an airplane cabin, and you are no longer alone. Sitting next to you is your fiancé. You are on your way to a wedding. Your wedding. Oh, how easy it would be to only concentrate on the future.

Cindy sat down next to her fiancé. The plane was emptier than usual, red eye flight. Anthony looked into Cindy’s eyes and gave her a rather meretricious smile. He was no longer focusing on her eyes, but more on his wedding day, and the life he felt obligated to spend with her.

In a matter of minutes after takeoff, Cindy was fast asleep next to Anthony. She fell asleep on his shoulder initially, but Anthony didn’t feel comfortable not being able to move freely. He silently nudged her away, and she despairingly obliged.

An older man with a black cane nonchalantly sat down next to the “happy” couple. His clothing choice was nothing special. He wasn’t exactly a man you would pick out of a crowd. He held close to him a black briefcase, wearing an old gray pea coat, a pair of black polyester pants, and a long-sleeved dress shirt slightly untucked at the bottom. It’s not that his look was displeasing, it was just rather monotonous.

“Where are you headed stranger?” the old man slid back and forth to get comfortable and then smiled at Anthony.

“Oh, we’re on our way to a wedding…” Anthony coughed. “Excuse me, I mean our wedding.” And he pointed into sleeping beauty’s direction.

“Well, I guess congratulations are in order.” The older gentleman exclaimed.

Anthony put on a fake smile. “Oh no, no congratulations necessary, sir, but thank you. Where are you going to end up on this fine night?” He pretended to be interested.

The man did not reply. Instead, he took a book from his briefcase and began to read with a carefree smile.

“The Philosophy of Time…?” Anthony read the title aloud.

“Why yes. It’s quite a good read if I do say so myself. It’s a little arduous at points, but nothing a man of intelligence couldn’t handle.” His wrinkled skin stretched as he spoke.

“Who wrote it?” Anthony said, running his fingers over the cover of the book to remove a glare. “Abraham Sinner?”

“That’s my name! It’s mighty fine to meet you too, lad.” Old Man Abraham stretched out his arm, still smiling.

Anthony grabbed his hand and shook lightly. “I’m impressed.” He wasn’t impressed. “My name is Anthony.”

Abraham spoke. “Oh, it’s nothing special.” This was Anthony’s thought exactly.

Cindy woke up.

“Hey babe, sorry if we woke you.” Anthony moved a strand of a hair away from her left eye. Cindy hated it when he did that.

She swiped his hand away forcefully. “It’s fine, hun. Who’s your friend here?”

“This is…” Anthony was interrupted.

“The name is Abraham Sinner. Sinner by name, not by occupation.” Abraham chuckled and continued to flip the pages of his book. Anthony shot him a stern glare. He didn’t enjoy being cut off.

“Where are you headed?” Cindy asked while rubbing her eyes to adjust to the light.

Sinner did not answer once again.

Anthony could tell Cindy was about to ask once more, but he shook his head as a warning for her to stop.

“Well, my name is Cincinnati. But my friends call me Cindy.” She spoke softly.

Anthony turned his glare to Cindy. He was dumbfounded for he had no clue her name was short for Cincinnati. He thought about bringing it up, but felt it would only start an argument.

“It’s quite a surprise,” Abraham spoke slowly, “that you two are content spending the rest of your lives with a complete stranger.”

“Whoa, Sinner, who said anything about us being complete strangers?” Anthony protested.

“It’s quite easy to see. Tell me, when is her birthday?” Sinner smiled a sinister smile.

“It’s um…” The cabin went silent.

“Honey, tell him when my birthday is!” Cindy’s voice hinted at her anger.

“I… I... I don’t know it.” Anthony’s eyes locked onto Cindy’s begging for mercy.

“How can you not know my birthday? Are you really that cold hearted?” Cindy screamed and threw her arms into the air.

“Okay then, Ms. Perfect. When is my birthday?”

“It’s…” Cindy was at a loss for words.

“My thoughts exactly!” Anthony sat back with a false sense of pride.

Abraham continued to flip the pages of his book. With each page it seemed as though he was flipping faster. The silence rang throughout the cabin, and a sense of betrayal filled the air. The old man got to the last page, paused, and then slammed the book closed. When the pages hit the back cover, the left engine of the plane gave out.

The cabin jerked and the people who failed to abide by the seatbelt sign were ejected from their dreams. Sinner sat still, staring at the scared couple.

“Read this.” Abraham said softly, handing the book to Anthony.

“Are you joking? We don’t have time for that.” Anthony screamed and wrapped his arms around Cindy.

“Oh? Then tell me exactly what you have time for?” Abraham smiled again.

Anthony looked into his eyes, judging him. He quickly grabbed The Philosophy of Time, and opened to the first page. It was blank.

The plane was falling ever faster now. The pilot came onto the loud speaker. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

Anthony turned to the next page, only to find that it also was empty. Infuriated, he flipped through the entire book and not a single word was written on any of the pages. “What kind of cr*p are you trying to pull here?”

The cabin was now filled with the screams and cries of its passengers. The floor was soaked with tears, and the air was filled with prayers.

“You don’t seem to get it, Anthony! The book is blank because there is no such thing as the Philosophy of Time. Time does not exist.” Anthony closed his eyes as Sinner spoke. A tear fell down his cheek. Sinner grabbed him and shook him from his concussive state. “Listen to me, Anthony! I’m saying that there is no such thing as the time that we perceive.”

Anthony opened his eyes and stared at Abraham. “Why does that matter? We’re going to die in the next 3 minutes anyway.”

The pilot was still on the loud speaker. He was repeating the same two words over and over. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” You could hear the tears falling onto the microphone.

Abraham grabbed Anthony by the collar. “It matters, Anthony, because you can either perceive these last 3 minutes as your death, or as just another 3 minutes of your life. YOU control how meaningful and slow this time can be spent. Instead of spending these moments fearing your death, spend it with your fiancé, who I know that you love very, very much. Get to know her, Anthony!”

Anthony’s eyes widened as he stared into the mouth of Abraham, soaking up everything he had to say. He looked throughout the cabin and the world around him stopped. The pilot’s voice became muted, the floor became dry, and the air became silent. Abraham sat back into his chair, crossed his legs, and opened his book again. Anthony looked over at Cindy and smiled. He was about to speak to her, but then turned to Abraham. The plane continued to plummet.

“You never answered my question, by the way. Where are you going?” He asked.

Abraham closed his book, uncrossed his legs, and turned to Anthony. “I’m going to a wedding.”

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