Mitch Albom’s status as the author of the most beloved memoir of all time (Tuesdays With Morrie) is all the more impressive when you realize that he wrote that book as a labor of love: to help pay Morrie’s medical bills. The rest is history. The book spent four years on the New York Times bestseller list, allowing Mitch to not only take care of Morrie’s expenses, but to also fund other charitable efforts. His next books, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day, were worthy successors, enchanting legions of fans with their thought-provoking and inspirational themes. His other claim to fame? He performs with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band of writers that also features Stephen King and Amy Tan, that helps raise funds for children’s literacy projects across the country.
The Time Keeper
A man sits alone in a cave.
His hair is long. His beard reaches his knees. He holds his chin in the cup of his hands.
He closes his eyes.
He is listening to something. Voices. Endless voices. They rise from a pool in the corner of the cave.
They are the voices of people on Earth.
They want one thing only.
Sarah Lemon is one of those voices.
A teenager in our day, she sprawls on a bed and studies a photo on her cell phone: a good-looking boy with coffee-colored hair.
Tonight she will see him. Tonight at eight-thirty. She recites it excitedly—Eight-thirty, eight-thirty!—and she wonders what to wear. The black jeans? The sleeveless top? No. She hates her arms. Not the sleeveless.
“I need more time,” she says.
Victor Delamonte is one of those voices.
A wealthy man in his mid-eighties, he sits in a doctor’s office. His wife sits beside him. White paper covers an exam table.
The doctor speaks softly. “There’s not much we can do,” he says. Months of treatment have not worked. The tumors. The kidneys.
Victor’s wife tries to speak, but the words catch. As if sharing the same larynx, Victor clears his throat.
“What Grace wants to ask is . . . how much time do I have left?”
His words—and Sarah’s words—drift up to the faraway cave, and the lonesome, bearded man sitting inside it. This man is Father Time.
You might think him a myth, a cartoon from a New Year’s card—ancient, haggard, clutching an hourglass, older than anyone on the planet.
But Father Time is real. And, in truth, he cannot age. Beneath the unruly beard and cascading hair—signs of life, not death—his body is lean, his skin unwrinkled, immune to the very thing he lords over.
Once, before he angered God, he was just another man, fated to die when his days were done.
Now he has a different fate: Banished to this cave, he must listen to the world’s every plea—for more minutes, more hours, more years, more time.
He has been here an eternity. He has given up hope. But a clock ticks for all of us, silently, somewhere. And one is ticking even for him.
Soon Father Time will be free.
To return to Earth.
And finish what he started.
This is a story about the meaning of time
and it begins long ago, at the dawn of man’s history, with a barefoot boy running up a hillside. Ahead of him is a barefoot girl. He is trying to catch her. This is often the way it is between girls and boys.
For these two, it is the way it will always be.
The boy’s name is Dor. The girl is Alli.
At this age, they are nearly the same size, with high- pitched voices and thick, dark hair, their faces splashed with mud.
As Alli runs, she looks back at Dor and grins. What she feels are the first stirrings of love. She scoops a small rock and tosses it high in his direction.
“Dor!” she yells.
Dor, as he runs, is counting his breaths.
He is the first person on Earth to attempt this— counting, making numbers. He began by matching one finger to another, giving each pairing a sound and a value. Soon he was counting anything he could.
Dor is gentle, an obedient child, but his mind goes deeper than those around him. He is different.
And on this early page of man’s story, one different child can change the world.
Which is why God is watching him.
Excerpted from the book The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. Copyright (c) 2012 Mitch Albom, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.
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