Adianoeta: An expression that, in addition to an obvious meaning, carries a second, subtle meaning (often at variance with the ostensible meaning).
“Time will tell“ I thought to myself as I looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. “Time will tell” I said out loud as the clock ticked and the minute hand jumped ahead to next tic mark at 2:06. It was dark outside and I was troubled. It was my conscience—my relentless conscience piled high with wrongs—my misdeeds that are grist for my insomnia mill.
I’ve gotten away with a lot in my life. An abundance of bad behavior had lain the foundation for my wealth. Lying, cheating and stealing is how I got where I am today—as they say, “It doesn’t matter how many people you step on on the way up,” I stepped on a lot of people. I broke a lot of rules. I broke the law too often to recount here. I am bad and my conscience bears witness to that fact. But, what eats away at me and keeps me awake at night is Suzy.
Suzy and I were classmates in the 5th grade in a small town in New Jersey. They said our streets were the most smoothly paved in the state because the Mafia took care of them. My father would hang me from the basement rafters and beat me with a bullwhip if I “got out of line,” like the time when I as 12 and drove his car through the back of the garage. I was a little “off” and would frequently act impulsively without thinking of the consequences. Now, we come to Suzy.
Even though I was only in the fifth grade, I had feelings for her. Nothing romantic—she was kind and friendly and always smiled and said hello. She had contracted Polio a few years before, wore an unwieldy brace on her left leg, and limped badly.
Back then, movies only cost twenty-five cents. “Them” was coming to the movie theatre. It was about giant ants that ate people. I didn’t have any money—not even lunch money. I begged for food in the cafeteria. I decided to ask Suzy for twenty-five cents. I knew she had it—she was rich. I asked her to take a walk with me to the janitor’s closet. When we got there, I asked her for twenty-five cents. She said “No!” Angered, I pushed her down—with her leg brace she fell really hard. She was knocked out. I reached in her purse and took twenty-five cents. When Suzy awoke she had amnesia and could not remember anything. I went to the movies and totally enjoyed “Them.”
Suzy relapsed due to her injuries, ended up in an iron lung, and died. At the time, I felt no remorse—I had gotten to see “Them” and that was all that mattered. I was all that mattered. Nothing else mattered. Me.
About ten years ago, the “Suzy Incident” started charging into my mind late at night and fill it with guilt, remorse, and sorrow. I can’t shake it. I can’t tell anybody about it, I can’t atone. All I can do is stay up until dawn anguishing. I might as well be dead, but I’m not ready to go yet. I have these sleeping pills I never take. I am saving them up for when it’s time. I was thinking “Time will tell.” But now I’m thinking “Tell what?”
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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