At first glance, it was nothing special. An open floor space of living room, dining area, and kitchen shared a floor of burnt orange Tuscany tiles; a wall of windows covered in cloth beige blinds smudged the room’s colors with filtered sunlight. A worn area carpet covered the majority of the living space, tufts of cat hair unevenly adorned the geometric patterns of maroon, blue, and shades of tan and brown. A rustic wooden chest that served as a coffee table was covered in the mundane piles that accumulate when long days at work strain shoulders and and weaken backs: a pile of bills unpaid, a crumpled napkin, a magazine untouched for months, and a plate and fork abandoned. In this dull setting, the hum of a distant refrigerator and the meticulous ticking of a clock lingered just outside the temporary force field she had developed around the perimeter of her zero-gravity chair.
On her knees, a piece of technological wonder balanced beneath her quick fingers – their stodgy dance establishing a dominance across the MacBook Pro’s keyboard. This time-machine could envelope its owner in a temporary gap, folding a very small fraction of the fabric of time and space, and permitting a person to cease from the present existence. The field enveloped her, blocked cares and concerns about schedules and obligations as she poured alternate realities onto a screen. Like Alice and her mirror, the Time Avoider yearned to escape into the black and white world displayed on the flat screen, the curves and sharp points of the letters beckoning her even as the chill of the room crept around her cone of separation. A purr erupted from the land of the dinner table as her work phone signaled a meeting reminder. Defeated, she pulled the screen shut, the transparent panel simultaneously dropping to the floor, ushering in the sound of car tires on gravel, birdsong from the front yard trees, and the incessant poking of the ticking clock – bullying her to the shower and then to work.