Congratulations @rasmanisar! Nice job! And thanks again to both authors that entered and all the forum members that voted. You can send me a PM for the next contest theme if you'd like. Acceptance.  30 minutes. This, the time I have given to me; less than required, but more than enough. It ticks by, unheeded by my simple struggle. Soft, gentle seconds fall awkwardly, mimicking the words that stumble from my toughened fingertips, turned callous by a watchful world. Tough, yes. Signs of work, leisure turned toil in that quest for success, every moment beating brighter as my heart yearns. Not a victory, perhaps never, but persistence. The hunger growls deep inside, quenched only by those hallowed hours, drenched in sweat and dusted with chalk as I do battle, body straining to overcome the odds. We were made for this, made for the challenge. Our bodies crafted, forged even - if one believes in such things. Some would question, asking, endless questions that echo through the crowd; How might we be as we are, so purposeful, so pure? How might we be these things, be these bastions of life without an order to existence? I do not need to argue, not anymore. I do not need their words of repetition, damning statements filled with fear as they wish their fate on others. It hurts. Realisation is a terrible thing, and we wonder all too deeply. This, I think, brain addled by weariness, is the reason. Only at the end of the rough river will you find the smooth stones. Wait, I was somewhere. Funny how these things can slip away from you, late at night. Time, yes, that was the thing. I blink, eyes stinging from bright, uniform light against a dark backdrop. My point was somewhere back there, if I look for it. Ah, yes. We were made for more than we are taught. All of you, you will know this; bright minds amongst the subterfuge. We still strive, though some may not see it. Just as this glorious machine we have built to keep us safe will protect us, so it will numb us. It presses us, trying to mould the shape it thinks we need, the shape that we have made it see. It only sees what we see, after all. The struggle has changed for better, or worse; any judgement we make can be analysed, a box ticked, a result processed. This, we know. I clasp my hands, shivering. Is this what I thought it would be? I don’t know. How could I? I haven’t thought of that yet. The temperature drops, well, of course it will. Listen to that wind howling, it is the tip of the iceberg. Here I lie, cocooned in processed comfort. New manufacturing techniques, they say. Only 4.7 billion years in the making. Trees outside my shelter rustle, the few survivors in this field of steel. Somewhere, somehow, they yearn for more. Saddened, but not for long. Clinging to the skin of this delicate organism, billions of tons of sap pump like life blood, bringing me another sweet, unappreciated breath. I feel my cells ripple in unison as we move, each one an essential part. I worry, sometimes, that they will turn mutiny. Oh. 30 minutes. Time is such a fickle thing, no matter how much I try to harness it. I view my work, critical eye turned soft by sentiment. Less than expected, more than necessary. Can I accept that?