“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”


Wake up! You’ve got the future in those hands.

I had been blogging just over a month when I posted this in response to one of Charli Mills’ prompts. Thought it might have another little run out here.

This quote is from Zadie Smith – clever woman. And it’s what I understand when I think about Time’s parabola. We start out as little more than nothing, knowing nothing, understanding nothing and we fight through the ignorance of youth to some tipping point when we understand learning is not a fight but a gift; but as we grasp that truism we begin the slide back into the deepest ignorance, as the more we know, the more we understand we know nothing. And at the end of our life’s span we are as ignorant as that wee baby.

The pleasure is surely in the future, where we find out what we don’t yet know; the past is banked, tucked away in our memories to be drilled into for pain or pleasure as we wish. But it is spent, accounted for and on the ledger. The future is Life’s pocket money, Le Pourboire des Dieux; it is free spending to be frittered away or invested, though as with all investments we know not what the returns will be.

So, to delve into the future is to give rein to our greatest hopes and deepest fears. We can embrace it as an opportunity sprinkled with stardust, eyes and arms wide open {doofus, you can’t embrace something with your arms wide open} and run shrieking with delight into the sea of possibilities or  we can poke it suspiciously with a stick to see if a serpent lurks within.

It sometimes seems that the older one gets the more the past, the lost investments, the unexpected serpents, act as a drag on our abilities to take another chance. Don’t let it; it’s gone.

As you stand in the dark, wondering what’s to come, take a penny (or your coin of choice), toss it high and, before the coin hits the ground, run like mad for the speck of light in front of you ; that light – it may be the on-rushing express or it might be the more glorious sunrise but take a punt: just make sure it isn’t you, grubbing around with your torch, looking for that penny; the returns are never worth it.

All of the above stream of pretentious wiffle-waffle is a result of this week’s prompt from the Carrot Ranch.

July 2, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a futuristic story that looks ahead.

I’ve not been one for futurism, fantasy, sci-fi or any of the genres associated with future speculation so this is a bit of a stretch (which, of course, is the point of these prompts).

If I do try and guess what’s in store I like to link it to some more scientific speculations: the increase in world temperatures; the growing world population but the likelihood that this century the world population will begin to shrink in absolute terms for the first time in human history; the battle for resources especially water; the ingenuity of man to develop disruptive technologies to combat the next great challenges; our increasing dependence on power and especially electricity; the fact that we live longer but so far never beyond about 125 (like there is a finite lifespan, even with the best genes and vastly improved medical care).

So stealing a couple of these, using one of my recurrent characters, Mary, and giving a big shout-out to Amber (call me ‘AJ’) Prince for the idea of Mars Independence I offer you…

Mary’s choice

 It was 97 years since she had last thought about ending it. The day she had found out about Dad’s affair. Now she was 125, the Max. She should go. Just think it and the Vivapod shuts down.

Mary hated deciding. She’d chosen to be part of the world brain. 2082 when her kidneys failed. ‘You can die or you join Omni.’ They took her body but with Glutox and RealView she didn’t notice; last week it was like she was on Mars for the Independence Day celebrations. If only Penny had chosen. Missing her had always been real.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in flash fiction, miscellany, thought piece, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to “The past is always tense, the future perfect.”

  1. Ritu says:

    😊 very good 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A vision of the future that really would give me nightmares.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Holy Moly. Shiver me timbers.Not my kind of future but then we’re not reading about ME.
    Decisions. o_O Decisions. 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    Wonderful, Geoff. I especially liked “embrace it (the future) as an opportunity sprinkled with stardust, eyes and arms wide open” – because it you keep seeing the stardust, it doesn’t matter how old you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sacha Black says:

    And u say I’m warped!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jan says:

    I’m glad you gave it another run – a great piece; very thought provoking.


  7. I’ll never look at the 80s in quite the same way. Now what to do with my Bananarama collection.


  8. Such a chilling vision Geoff and all in less than a hundred words! I do so hope our future isn’t like that – I hope we will have seen some collective sense beforehand…….. I loved your story preamble though and totally agree 🙂


  9. I liked the penny metaphor. Seems very appropriate and true.
    Nice story too.


  10. Yvonne says:

    I like that Zadie Smith quote. Had not seen it before. I like your story too!


If you would like to reply please do so here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.