On the low table by my bed lies a watch tick-ticking into my consciousness all night long. It’s a small thing, the whisper-soft click of a clock. A small thing that in the night silence grows deafening. It creeps into my dreams, fills my slumber with scritching branches and looming shadows, then portentious tolling bells. They clang through empty cathedrals, drawing me nearer to death. Or to morning, when I can throw the offending thing across the room.
But somehow, I don’t. Maybe because it’s not mine. My son found it in the schoolyard mulch, ticking beneath the feet of playing children. He brought it home, proud of his prize. The seconds flew into minutes then to hours and days, carried around on his arm.
“You need to take it to lost and found,” I told him. He objected and I confiscated the timepiece, forgetting it on my bedside stand until its clicking reminded me. You can never leave time behind. It marches onward, inexorable, whether happy, heavy or tired.
The clock still ticks.
Moments string together like pearls on thread. Black, brown, or creamy, ringed with laughter or twisted by sorrow. Their indelible beauty or horror formed by our choices, born from our lives.
Each tick-tock second matters.
Soon the dug-up watch will no longer sound by my head. We’ll take it back to the school. Or I’ll take a hammer to it, just so I can sleep. But its midnight lesson will ring through my mind, one tick, one toll at a time.