Time for a Change

“This went a lot more smoothly than I imagined, and it was built with little room for error.  It fit perfectly, though, and that’s not easy to do. Handmade casings are always a tossup.” The horologist closed his bag and wound the clock in synchronicity with his phone. “It’s quite the unusual setup, but it runs exceptionally well. It kept up with my clocking with little to no loss. You also did well to listen to my suggestion of felt foot pads. You’ve leveled it out perfectly.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Has the quote changed, or is it something different?” He sat back a moment to admire his grandfather’s handiwork. The brass tones glittered in the light of his new chandelier, the fixture he had toiled and cursed to set up. Most of the house was sewn together with his profanity and toil. It made for a reliable suture.

“It’s the same. Man, check out how well it matches your table. You couldn’t have planned that better if you tried.” The horologist stood back to look at the drop leaf table in total. Indeed it matched. It also matched the floor and the walls. All of this came together with only a bare minimum of forethought, a series of independent choices tying themselves together without any effort.

“Yes, that’s always a bonus.” He broke the check neatly along the perforations close to the spine. It was a healthy sum. A sum from sacrifice and sweat, but he’d be OK. He was a survivor. He knew that it would be a can of beans here, a stay-at-home weekend there, and he would have recouped his savings after a while. He wasn’t sure how long “a while” was specifically, but it did exist in some quantity.

The deed was now done. The help was paid in full, and the clock was functional again for the first time in more than three decades. He sat down at the kitchen table again and stared at the finished project. It chimed with soft Westminster tones he could only translate into gratitude. Like the gasp of a patient brought back from dead, it was alive again.

Sitting in front of him, the phone became a reminder of the finishing touch. Thumbing through the address book he called his mother. A drowsy voice took the call.

“Hey mom, the clock’s working again. It chimes perfectly.”

“That’s great, honey.”

“The guy who worked on it was really impressed. He said he was worried it might not fit it was so tight, but the movement gave him no hassle. It was as if the case was custom built for the clockworks, and that’s machine-quality milling.”

A sniffle was the only reply, but he immediately knew it wasn’t from an early onset of the flu season. He knew the story. She lost he father before he was born. It wasn’t a seamless account, as he had to glue the pieces together like a broken vase, but he knew enough. The details weren’t important anyway.

“We had no money. He worked so hard. He was so good at it.” The voice was full of remembering. Memories too painful to frequent, but too precious to let go. He clutched his fist and grit his teeth at the sorrow.

“I know you didn’t, mom. I know.” It takes strength to stare down suffering, when you’re the anchor in a conversation.

“I miss him… so much…” choking all over her words, she made a few “hups” to hobble through it. He knew she was unable to pull the resources together to do much of anything with it. The bits of inexpensive decor laid upon it for the last thirty years would make for a small memorial to its maker. They were the token acknowledgement of its existence. It must have been killing her to see it that way for so long.

“I would like you to stop by and listen to it sometime.”

Another sob came over the line ending with, “I would love that very much.”

There had not been a time in his life where he doubted his role in all of this. He just never knew the why until the very end. Today, he had done right.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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6 thoughts on “Time for a Change

  1. Nicely written, Nate. Moving piece as opposed to moving parts.

  2. laurasmess says:

    Ah, you make me want to get back into creative writing. I used to love getting lost in my own characters… creating a little world of my own with vivid details, sounds and shadows, directly from my mind’s eye. But for now, I’ll just get lost in your work. It’s brilliant. Can’t wait to see something novel-length (please? please?)

    • Modesty forbids me to get a swollen head about this, but thank you.

      I’ve had My City by the Bay on the back burner for months now, and it pains me to think about it. Unfortunately, there is always something to do around the house and work. It makes me wish I could recall those days of vacation while at the university where I had absolutely nothing to do. I’d totally dump editing on my younger self.

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