2 Feb


Sibsey Trader windmill clock photo DSC01031-1.jpg  Joshua Preet was surrounded by clocks.

He’d been obsessed by them since he’d been a child, all sorts of clocks, but especially solid old clocks with a visible pendulum.

And one day one of his clocks stopped working. It was a fine old wall clock with a wonderfully crinkled pendulum set in an oak case, and he shook his head sadly when he realised that nothing he could do would produce a single tick or a single tock. That clock had been special to him, and it had stopped working, completely and utterly, and on his birthday at that.

“It makes me feel sad,” he murmured to his wife, a beautiful woman though, like him, well stricken in years.

“There are quite a few more,” she pointed out to him. “Though I don’t know why you care!”

He frowned. Maybe she was right. Of course she was There were quite a few more indeed, big ones and small ones, analogue ones and digital ones, even one with a vibrating wand that somehow, miraculously, lit the time in lights. And he did care.

“I know,” he whispered.

And another clock stopped.

It was a quartz digital clock and it wouldn’t even respond to a new battery. It stopped, and he knew from the dull blankness of its face that it would never work again.

“We’re running out of time,” he quipped to his wife, Joanne. The quartz clock didn’t really bother him, so he didn’t mind joking about it.

But she was to remember that light-hearted comment the very next day when yet another clock gave up the ghost. It was a lovely mantel clock with a Victorian face and a body hewn from granite. At least, it looked like granite. Anyway, he loved it and when Joanne saw the way he peered inside its clockwork case she shook her head.

“Something’s wrong,” moaned Joshua, “that’s three clocks in three days, and it looks as if none of them intend to ever work again.”

“They say that bad things always happen in threes,” she consoled him. “Remember your dad’s chickens?”

“That was years and years ago! Dad’s been dead above fifty years!” he replied, shaking his head and momentarily saddened. He’d loved his dad.

“He had three chickens and they died, one after another,” she reminded him. “And that meant he had no eggs – and it was not long after the war when eggs were really welcome.”

“They were all from the same batch of eggs themselves,” he reminded her, “they were going to die at around the same age. It was only natural!”

“So bad things happen in threes,” she repeated, shaking her head. “There’ll be no more clocks breaking down and stopping. Just you wait and see!”

And he did wait – but not long before he saw, because the very next day another clock stopped. It was a cuckoo clock the two of them had mused over in a shop in the Black Forest, and chosen together.

And it had stopped and wouldn’t go however hard he tapped it and pulled the winding chain and cursed it. The cuckoo had become mute, the clock had stopped, and that was that.

The house was becoming quieter by the moment. Tickings were muted until there were hardly any left and the healthy chorus of chimes on every hour became a thing of the past. Clocks just stopped. Every day another. It was eerie, spooky, as if the whole world was winding down and preparing to stop.

“I don’t like it, love…” he whispered to Joanne.

“It’s uncanny,” she agreed. “There’s only one clock left to break!”

“No. That’s all,” he almost wept. “Not one of them works any more.”

“No. There’s one more,” she whispered, “one last daft old clock…”

“There is?” he asked.

“And I’ll break it now,” she whispered, “I’m going away, Joshua … I’m leaving you … I’m breaking your heart like you’ve broken mine with your obsession with clocks over all these years … I’ve had enough …. goodbye!”

© Peter Rogerson 02.02.15


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