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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.