Prompt Images

Past tenses are funny. “Add -ed,” they tell you. But then spring becomes sprung, unless it’s sprang. Ring becomes rung unless it’s rang. Shrink becomes shrunk, unless it’s shrank. Tweet becomes twat, which is what I call my neighbor who in retrospect regrets that he voted for Brexit.

English can be more creative than you expect. Nouns become verbs. Lace your shoes. Exit through the door or window. Elbow your way through the mob. We breakfast on what’s left in the house: marmite on toast. Passengers de-plane at their destination or if the flight’s been canceled.

Spring is the past tense to summer. High School is the past tense to College, unless it’s Employed or Unemployed. Boyfriend is past tense to ex-, unless it’s husband.

Happiness is a funny one. It can be past tense to Mondays and to marriage and to making waves and to so many of life’s challenges and riches. But so can loneliness and frustration and anxiety.

Past tense can be filled with failure and regret, and future tense with hope and optimism. But these can be mixed up, past becoming future, or vice versa. Sick becomes healthy becomes sick becomes healthy, and so on.

Britain becomes Europe, that’s what we once said. Europe becomes Earth, Earth becomes Humanity, Humanity becomes The Universe.

But we don’t use those tenses anymore. They’re unwound, like a spring that sprung and broke.

Thomas Viehe

Thomas Viehe prefers pop over soda, loo over toilet, fall over autumn. He lives with his wife and dog in a remote part of the country, Washington, D.C.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more