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When I awakened and craned my neck to see the alarm clock, a neon red 3:57 stared back at me. Without my glasses, the bedroom looked like an eerie Pointillist painting, but I ignored its abstract-looking creatures and faced Jimmy. Using my ear as a stethoscope, I rested on his chest to listen to his heart.

He, unfortunately, sensed my presence and flipped over, dragging most of the comforter with him. What started out as a glimpse at the clock threatened to turn into a full-fledged middle of the night wake-up and that wasn't good. I wiggled towards him to stop shivering, but could not escape the painting. I was nearly conscious! Then, the tick-tock of our grandfather clock waltzed into the room, its simple melody blanketing me with warmth as I drifted back to sleep.

Ironically, I used to dream about clocks. The dreams disappeared when I pranced into puberty, but I never forgot the comforting rhythms and soothing sensations of those ticking clocks.

"Choices" by Sharon J. Roe

"Choices"

by Sharon J. Roe

Years later, I met Jimmy. And, after a few dates, he invited me to his condo, one brimming with old clocks. My destiny, as they say, was fulfilled.

We continued his hobby as a couple, welcoming into our home all types of neglected timepieces. As Jimmy labored over each arrival, I realized he healed them with passion as much as skill. The one clock he wanted to love and care for (but we could never afford) was the grandfather. Then, we saw an ad in the newspaper announcing an antique barn sale and one of the items listed was a tall case clock.

We rushed to the barn and clamored towards the clock - immediately attracted by its glistening mahogany case and elegant, painted face. It towered over the other antiques, not with conceit or arrogance, but with grace and humility. Jimmy removed its carved bonnet and examined its fragile movement. He discovered it had been transplanted from another; its heart had been broken.

A man exiting the barn stopped and warned us not to buy the clock. He said we would never recoup our investment in a flawed, mongrel timekeeper. He suggested we visit a nearby shop that sold new and antique clocks - in either case, perfect clocks. At first, the stranger's well-intentioned comments weighed upon us. We stared at the grandfather from different angles, anguished over its age, and questioned its integrity. Wrought with indecision, we agreed to pass on the misfit clock with the broken heart and search for one full of health.

Once outside the barn, though, we glanced up at the clouds dancing across the morning sky, down at the autumn-splattered leaves protecting the damp earth, then across into the eyes of each other. There we found our truth: the hurting clock belonged at home with us.

As Jimmy loaded the mahogany case into the van, a gentleman hurried up to him and said, "Tell me you haven't bought the clock." Jimmy said, "Yes, I just did." The man introduced himself as a collector and asked Jimmy if he could see the clock's face. His eyes lit up when Jimmy showed him the delicately painted Roman numerals, blue jays, peaches and forget-me-nots. "That's a beautiful clock," the man said. "You got yourself a great deal. I only wish I'd gotten here sooner."

The clock classed up our foyer, just like we knew it would. Its mahogany suit matched the wood in our staircase and the brown in our Oriental runner and, when Jimmy cleaned out the bottom of its case, he found several plywood shims and a tarnished metal part. Brandishing the part in the light, he called me over, smiled and said, "I think I know what's wrong with the clock."

He reached up into the movement, ready to attach the time worn part, but it wouldn't hook. He tried again and again. Frustrated and aching from reaching up into the clock's insides, Jimmy made one final attempt, and the part slipped into place. He reattached the medieval-looking weights and pendulum and, with my fingers crossed, let the pendulum swing. It ticked. And it tocked. Our clock's heart had been mended.

With our proud grandfather still ticking strong four months later, Jimmy and I are thankful we came to our senses in time to buy the clock of our dreams. It's not important that our beloved clock might be worth more or less than what we paid for it - that's not why we brought it home.

Rather, we bought it because we love the beauty and craftsmanship of old clocks. We bought it because when we open the door to our clock's beating heart, the memories of a simpler time flutter into the corners of our home, enriching our lives in the present. Most importantly, we bought the clock because it was imperfect - just like us. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.

 

Julie Nardone is the creative manager at a high technology firm in the Boston area. She lives with her husband, two cats, and piano in an old Colonial they are restoring. Although Julie has been penning stories for her own amusement since childhood, she only recently entered the world of freelance writing. She looks forward to seeing more of her work published in print and online. Julie may be contacted at: jtsakirgis@yahoo.com.



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