Momo glanced up at the street sign immediately above her. It was a slab of white marble and on it, in gold lettering, were the words NEVER LANE.
Although she had taken only a second or two to look at the sign and read it, the tortoise was already far ahead and had almost reached the house at the end of the lane.
“Wait for me, Tortoise!” she called, but for some strange reason she couldn’t hear her own voice.
The tortoise seemed to have heard, though, because it paused and looked around. Momo tried to follow, but no sooner had she set off down Never Lane than a curious sensation gripped her. She felt as if she were toiling upstream against a mighty torrent or battling with an inaudible tempest that threatened to blow her backwards. Bent almost double, she braced her body against the mysterious force, hauling herself along hand over hand or crawling on all fours.
She could just make out the little figure of the tortoise waiting patiently at the end of the lane. “I’m getting nowhere!” she called at last. “Help me, can’t you?”
Slowly the tortoise retraced its steps. When it came to a halt in front of her, its shell bore the following advice: WALK BACKWARDS.
Momo tried it. She turned around and walked backwards, and all at once she was progressing up the lane with the utmost ease. At the same time, something most peculiar happened to her. While walking backwards, she was also thinking, breathing and feeling backwards – living backwards, in fact.
From Michael Ende’s novel, Momo.