the clock

Here’s another story inspired by a prompt. “Begin a story with, ‘the clock winked’.” So I did.

The clock winked. Margaret stared at it. She had been sitting in the old winged armchair with the smelly antimacassar, swinging her feet a few inches off the floor. Now she got up, padding in her stockinged feet across the oriental rugs to the mantle where the clock reposed. She peered at it. It looked rather snobbishly back, the hands ticking obstinately around its face. It was on old, worn clock, once shiny and brassy, but dim and dulled with age. She picked it up. It tocked in an annoyed fashion and stared up at her. She turned it over and around, looking for anything odd. It just seemed a bit wriggly, that was all. She looked at it closely. Perhaps it was bored with sitting on the shelf all day, ticking away its life.

“Well, sir, I don’t blame you one bit.” She said understandingly. “I feel quite the same. Just going to lessons with horrid Miss Pratchett, and playing with stupid dolls and things. It’s a terrible life, isn’t it?”

The clock ticked morosely in agreement. Laughing at her new friend, Margaret turned and headed for the French doors on the far end of the room. The lace panels were blowing about, and the overcast sky looked blearily in when she had wrestled the heavy doors ajar.

“So, what say, we go out for a bit of an adventure?” Margaret whispered conspiratorially to the old clock. “Mama will make an awful fuss when she sees my dirty dress and stockings, but I haven’t been out in ages. I hope it doesn’t rain again.”

She eyed the sky warily, but it was only a light, dull grey, and looked harmless enough.

Holding the clock fast to her chest, she rocketed towards the trees, her shoeless feet slapping the wet grass. Once safely secreted within the trunks of the old elms, Margaret turned the clock to face out and settled down against the wood.

“When I was younger,” she began in a very old voice, “I used to come out here all the time to play. But once I turned eleven, well…it’s all work work work now. No time for anything. The adults think it’s so very fine to keep me locked up with books and papers, learning my life away. I don’t think so. Everyone needs to be taken off the shelf once in a while and dusted off, don’t you think?”

The clock ticked on, ignoring her monologue, enjoying the damp breeze.

Margaret grew silent as well, her breath crystalizing in the chilly October air. Thoughts too aged and grand swirled in her head, barely registering there, but she knew the import of them. She knew she was growing up, and she wasn’t sure if she liked it. Her child’s brain still balked at the ideas she glimpsed in the vague recesses of the misty forest.

The clock buzzed slightly, disturbing Margaret from her thoughts. She glanced down, feeling the slight drizzle descending between the leaves. Her feet were soaked, and she was started to feel cold.

“Alright then. I guess we had better go back.”

She turned, closing her arms over the clock so its face would not get damp, and headed back to the house, her sopping feet leaving muddy prints all over the cobblestone path.




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