Mother Earth sang herself to sleep. She sang the world to sleep. But during the summer, it took her longer than usual to reach the oblivion of rest. It was the damn heat that kept her up. There was a coffee shop that opened around the beginning of autumn where she went and sat, soaking up the energy of the smiling customers. It helped her relax. And in the winter when everyone wanted hot chocolate, she fell asleep especially easily. The dark atmosphere, the smooth jazz; it was her haven.

There was a time when Mother Earth didn't think about coffee shops and jazz and warm drinks. Thoughts of men would pester her mind day and night. That time came and went, though—she had accepted being lonely long ago and she no longer thought of men. She felt a little less alone in that coffee shop where people sipped their steaming coffee and chatted softly. She didn't need a man, anyway. What woman really needed a man?

The year was 1805 when she finally thought about men again. An intruder entered the coffee shop, looked around, and sat in the empty chair across from her. He had a sort of air about him, one that reminded Mother Earth of herself. She usually sang along to the pianist's jazzy tunes but the stranger's presence stopped her short. There was something about him that made her skin tingle and her hairs stand on end. It wasn't pleasant.

"Good evening, Missus," he said in a low, husky voice.

Mother Earth fought back a shiver. "I don't believe I said that seat was vacant, Sir."

He chuckled. "Oh, surely I don't need an invitation?" The man's amusement ended when he noticed her uncertainty and he sighed. "Where has your memory gone? I'm hurt that you forgot my present this year."

"Father Time!" she gasped, reaching across the table to stroke his bearded face. "My, you should have warned me of your arrival! You've changed a great deal. Please forgive me for not recognizing you straight away. Happy birthday!"

Father Time laid a hand over hers and smiled. Suddenly the jazz stopped, the light chatter halted, and the sound of coffee being sipped vanished. She looked around with wide eyes and stood abruptly, but Father Time didn't let go of her hand. He gripped it tighter and got up from his chair, pulling Mother Earth into an embrace that resembled a death grip rather than a hug.

"What are you doing? Pausing time is a dangerous thing!" she hissed, struggling against his hold. "You must allow time to flow!"

"Do not tell me how to do my job," Father Time growled. He held Mother Earth's face between his hands, nails drawing blood, and aged her. The woman's soft skin became wrinkled. She could feel her heart growing weaker and her bones becoming brittle. "This is the present I've waited for all my life."

"Stop," she cried in a hoarse voice.

Father Time didn't stop. He aged her all the way until death and then dropped her to the ground. Jazz music continued as if it never stopped and people talked once more. He walked out onto the street and smiled at the blackened trees and overall lack of life. The weeds that had grown up between the cracks of the sidewalk wilted. The blue sky became dull and smoky. There was no liveliness to the street. The world died along with Mother Earth and soon people would be unable to sustain themselves. There would be no more need for time. He was free.

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This was written for The Lounge's Backwards Mythical Character Challenge. I don't think I made the backwards-ness obvious enough and a few parts sound awkward but I hope it was okay. xP