It can't help itself. There are so many shiny little seconds, like copper pennies, buried in the sand. And all those fat marbled minutes that roll downhill and find themselves half-submerged in a puddle. Then there are the hours, glittering gears forever moving forward one plodding step at a time. The magpie must have them all, plucking them from their gutters and trash bins and other places time goes to be forgotten.
The thrifty bird plucks a lost second from the bottom of your pocket--a strand of silver tinsel in its black beak. Broken-down minutes are trapped in its wings as if stardust were woven into each feather. It greedily clutches and grabs for the heaviest and most elusive of treasures: the hour that slipped away from you, frittered away or just lost when you forgot to look for it. The bird hooks its claws through the gear's hollow center, careful not to let the teeth bite into its scaled bones.
Back to the nest.
The scavenger's home becomes a museum of so many beautiful moments. So many grains of sand that escaped the hour glass. So many sparkling instants that could have sprouted another story, a different path. They all belong to the magpie. It wants to gloat over its hoarded treasure buried between rounded twigs and moss, revel in the delicious possibility of lost time.
But the temptation of finding more--bigger--gems lure it from its nest.
That is when the time thief strikes. She waits and she watches the magpie fondle discarded clock faces and rusty numbers that used to mean something. She hides in the shadows cast by the brilliant light of those silver timepieces and memories swept away with the seconds between blinks. And when the magpie shakes the last of the stardust from its wings and flits off in search of more sparkling tick-tocks, she makes her move.
Gathers all the dazzling lost instants and stuffs them into one day so that she may bask in the warm promise of extra time. (She knows too, that this borrowed time will always fetch a high price at the market.) Like the magpie, she cannot resist the glittering cogs that insist there is a past and a present and a future. Who can withstand the rotation of two hands on a circular face?
Certainly not the magpie who returns to its nest, drawn by the luminous day built from its hard-scavenged treasure. It will take back its precious collection, drive its sharp claws into the thief's spine--but the thief knows better than to turn her back to the nest. She instead hides in the shadows of the waning light, attempting to pull her stolen loot along in her wake. The bird tugs back, wrapping tinseled seconds around its beak and claws for better purchase; the thief refuses to let go, holding fast to a handful of minutes.
Push-pull, push-pull, until the moments and hours and seconds and minutes shake loose and scatter themselves over the earth, once again disappearing into gutters and drainpipes, under rocks and tree roots. The magpie has no choice but to start its work once more. The thief returns to the shadows, waiting until the bird's nest is once again full of lost time so that she may feast upon it herself.
The earth circles four times around the sun. Four sets of four seasons sweep through the land. And the cycle begins anew.
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