Perfect by Rachel Joyce

In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was a leap year and two seconds were designed to bring the clock back into line with the natural movement of the earth.  One might argue that two seconds is nothing. Nothing really happens in two second except perhaps tiny arbitrary actions like a blink or a sigh, or a sneeze, however two seconds can also change life irrevocably. Byron Hemmings is an intense and sensitive eleven year old boy. He worries about the addition of the time. He frets about its impact on life. He is occupied with concern about the risk of changing and meddling with time and disturbed by the nonchalance of others.

Byron lives with his little sister and his mother on the English moors. His father works away at the bank and only reappears on the weekends. During these times he likes everything to be perfect and he is very conscious of societal image. He likes his wife to dress a certain “proper” way, he likes his family to be presented and seen amongst society, he appears to exude strictness, correctness and discipline.  And then there is Diana. Byron’s mother. She is ethereal. She is fragile. She is rather free spirited at heart. She comes from a suggestive background. However to Byron she is perfect.

One day, Diana, Byron and his sister are running late for school. There is an accident and in a split-second everything changes.  The tale is told as plural narratives. One voice is the young Byron and the other is the adult voice of Jim.

The story unfolds two seconds, two boys, two women, one perfect illusion shattered.