A Clock, Broken

Mark Aldrich just posted a wonderful piece about . . .  well you’ll just have to click the link and find out, because I suddenly can’t remember anything other than enjoying it . . . 

“Always?” Kei lifted the mahogony clock from the shelf, held it close to her face, like an archeologist examining a surprising find.

“Yes, always.” Her mother’s paper-thin fingers brushed the top of its surface, leaving a track in the dust. “The woman who we brought the house from, she gave it to us. A gift.”

“Why?” Still clutching the clock with her left hand, Kei pulled the sweater tight against her body with her right. One of the concessions she had to make whenever she visited her parents (and this visit, coming so soon after the conclusion of her divorce, was more than a formality) was accepting, without complaint, how they kept their thermostat down to a level that comforted their frugality.

Her mother shrugged. “She didn’t say why, and it didn’t seem polite to ask. We just — accepted.” Her right hand reached up, patted the empty space on the shelf above the basement television. “And put it there.”

Kei sensed the clock, with its intricate woodwork and brass fittings, was too expensive for her to be handling, yet she couldn’t let it go. “I don’t ever remember seeing it here. Did you, maybe, have it somewhere else before? And moved it here?”

“No, it’s always been here.” Her mother took the clock from Kei, put it back on the shelf. “I remember it like yesterday. Your father installed these shelves the weekend after we moved in, and this clock was one of the first things we put there. Been right there, ever since.”

“Huh.” Kei stepped back, the back of her left foot nudging the large bean bag chair; instinctively she sat down, nestling into the position where she had spent a childhood’s lifetime of hours, watching and playing as the screen grew bigger with each of her father’s promotions. She pointed up at the clock. “I can see it from here, no problem. If it really was there all that time, I would have noticed it.”

Her mother sniffed. “Children have priorities that distract them, prevent them from noticing the world around them. Especially an item as mundane, as a broken clock.”

“Why don’t you get it fixed?” Kei was suddenly inspired by the thought of actually being able to do something useful for her parents. An inspiration quickly dashed by her mother’s response.

“Because it doesn’t belong to this era, as a functional device. If we want to know the time, we can find that information in so many, more reliable ways. This clock, that it doesn’t work, just makes it seem more like it belongs in the past. Which it does — “she smiled down at Kei — “along with our faulty memories.” 

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