I'm looking for a collection of short stories that was read to me some time in the late 90's- early 00's (between 1997 and 2001). I recall a number of stories from this book being read to me, but only one story stands out in my mind. I have no idea when the book was published. The book itself was in English, but I can't be sure if that was the original language it was written in.

The story itself involved a spot where time stood still; the closer to the exact center of spot the slower time would move, the further away from the spot the faster time would move until it returned to normal.

  • The story focused on various groups of people and how they interacted with the spot of time stopping.
  • The story was told from the perspective of an observer, taking note of the different people moving to and from the spot; noting how those closer to the center resembled statues and how you might need to wait days or weeks to notice any sense of movement depending on their proximity to the center.
  • I recall the observer describing a young couple trying to move closer to the center in hopes of making their love eternal.
  • Another group of people consisted of a family, already close to the center, but with their child/children pushing away from the parents, trying to move away from the center, slowly returning to a normal rate of time, while the parents wanted to hold their child back and stop them from moving away from the center.
  • I believe one individual was an elderly man trying to head to the center in hopes of beating death.

The overall feeling of the story was haunting and melancholy. It seemed to be commentary of the futility of trying to hold onto something that can not last. I recall other stories in the same book having similar themes.

1 Answer 1


Could be "The Center of Time" from "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman.

There is a place where time stands still. Raindrops hang motionless in air.


As a traveler approaches this place from any direction, he moves more and more slowly. His heartbeats grow farther apart, his breathing slackens, his temperature drops, his thoughts diminish, until he reaches dead center and stops. For this is the center of time. From this place, time travels outward in concentric circles–at rest at the center, slowly picking up speed at greater diameters.

Who would make pilgrimage to the center of time? Parents with children, and lovers.

And so, at the place where time stands still, one sees parents clutching their children, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The beautiful young daughter with blue eyes and blond hair will never stop smiling the smile she smiles now, will never lose this soft pink glow on her cheeks, will never grow wrinkled or tired, will never get injured, will never unlearn what her parents have taught her, will never think thoughts that her parents don’t know, will never know evil, will never tell her parents that she does not love them, will never leave her room with the view of the ocean, will never stop touching her parents as she does now.


Those not quite at dead center do indeed move, but at the pace of glaciers. A brush of the hair might take a year, a kiss might take a thousand. While a smile is returned, seasons pass in the outer world. While a child is hugged, bridges rise. While a goodbye is said, cities crumble and are forgotten.

Dushka Zapata's blog, Einstein's Dreams/The center of time

  • Yes, that is the story I'm remembering. I did some digging, the link you provide was posted in 2011, but the book was originally published in 1992, which fits the timeline for when I was exposed to it. Thank you for finding that.
    – onewho
    Sep 20, 2018 at 0:03
  • I remember reading that book for class in high school. Fascinating concepts.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 20, 2018 at 11:26

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