Time literally slowed down, flexing and stretching ruthlessly, forcing me to live through it painfully slowly. I had just opened my eyes from a confused blink to see his hand, raised over his head, holding a pair of shiny metal keys. They jingled loudly in slow motion, the vibrations reaching my ears with significant delay. His eyes stared at me blankly with a cold, uncaring gaze. His lips pursed slightly into an awkward smile, as if he knew me and just asked to say hello. His entire face shone brightly, trapped between fat droplets of water that smashed against his forehead and dripped down his impressive nose majestically; one after the other they hung from the tip of his hawkish nose, dangled for a while, then dropped to the floor, exploding. The hand moved closer, arching, covering the distance between us like an orbiting planet on a collision course.

I had no time to blink again, just stare back, forcing my brain to process faster. The pair of keys approached within his outstretched palm, crushing rain droplets into thin moist plates. These floated on his skin, making it sparkle, drawing my attention away. I stared at it for a long timeless moment, amazed, as the image rushed towards my face without warning.

Everything slowed down to an almost complete halt, the entire street went silent, shocked out of its usual buzzing sounds. Something just happened, something surprising and quick, something that even within this unlimited stretching of time took only a fragment of a second. I didn’t know what it was, or where it went and why it came. What began to be obvious, however, was the throbbing ache on the left side of my face, just above my jaw, just next to my ear, just below the rim of my glasses. It would eventually become a dark ominous mark, which I would pretend to take as small payment for what could have been much worse. But at that moment, it was still just a little red, and a little wet, and a lot painful.

I later learned that I wasn’t the first to have had this unfortunate incident in the middle of a busy street, with this particular hawk-nosed man and a pair of sparkly metal keys. There were other women like me, all in the same area, who he attacked without much cause only to run away immediately after. These women, like me, were likewise graced by an inexplicable expansion of time while their brains stressed to understand reality.

Maybe we were given this insight because time, with its infinite existence, knew that sometimes reality is just inexplicable.

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