All story: THE OLD CLOCK
My Web page


Thursday, 16 February 2012

I slowly woke up, and stared at my ceiling. Summer was over and the leaves were falling off the trees. If I don’t get up and out of the house soon, I might be volunteered by my parents to rake the yard. That put a spark in me; I jumped up, got dressed, and ran downstairs for breakfast. Oh good, Dad was tinkering in the basement, and Mom was sweeping the back porch.
Quickly I ate breakfast and went out the front door. Stealthily I made my way to the garage to get Blue. I slipped in the side door, hit the garage door opener then glided out with Blue like a ninja, quiet and invisible.
Actually the garage door didn’t work, so I wrestled my bike through the side door. I got the right handle stuck, grabbed the left handle and honked the bicycle horn; then ended up on the ground with Blue on top of me. So much for the ninja stuff!
“Hailey, what the heck are you doing? Why didn’t you use the garage door opener?”
Dang, Mom spotted me!
“I tried but it didn’t work, you need to tell Dad to look at it. I’m going over to Jared’s, be back later.”
She started to say something but it was “Hi Ho Blue, Awaayy” and I was off like the wind to see my best friend Jared.
Turning down his block I saw him on his front porch eating a pop tart. I silently braked, jumped off Blue, and sat down next to him.
“Did I scare you?” I asked quietly.
“No, why?”
“With my silent ninja quickness, I figured you didn’t notice me until I was sitting next to you.”
“Umm, Hailey, I saw you a block away, you almost fell over stopping Blue, and you farted when you sat down next to me.”
That was rather embarrassing! I had hoped Jared didn’t notice that last little bit of noise. So far, what ninja training I had (which was none), wasn’t working.
“I did not fart, that was my tennis shoe.”
“Right, your tennis shoe,” he laughed then choked on a piece of pop tart. By the time he quit gasping, I had changed the subject.
“So, what shall we do today?”
“Don’t think we can top the last adventure when we explored that old caboose,” Jared casually spit out the piece of pop tart he had choked on and it landed on his shirt instead of the ground. Dying to point that out, I sat there with jaws clenched, staring at the strawberry glob, and desperately trying not to laugh. I knew he’d bring up the “tennis shoe noise” if I did.
“I don’t want to top that,” I shuddered thinking about the scarecrow.
“Hey, let’s go to that old antique store.  Maybe old Mrs. Rhodes has got some more good stuff,” Jared jumped up, and thankfully the glob dropped off his shirt.
“Good idea; we haven’t checked there for a while. I need more Nancy Drew books.”
As we rode down the driveway, Dustin sauntered out the front door, blew a raspberry at us, then promptly missed the steps and fell off the side of the porch. Jared and I were laughing so hard we about crashed into each other, but had the good sense to get out of there before Dustin got up.
“Boy, for being an eighth grader, your brother can be pretty dumb.”
“Tell me about it, at least you don’t have to live with him!”
It didn’t take us long to get to the store. I looked at the dusty windows with the old sign hanging lopsided over the door. It was a little spooky, and no way would I come here at night.
A bell tinkled as we walked through the door.
“Hello Miss Hailey and Master Jared. What can I help you find today?” Old Mrs. Rhodes always called us that and it made me smile. She was probably in her eighties, and my Mom said that her parents built this store when the town first started up, so it was super old.
“Do you have any more Nancy Drew books?”
Mom gave me the first and second series on my eighth birthday, and I loved them. I’d been collecting them here for the last three years.
“No dear, I don’t have any of the ones you need but I’m going to a book sale next week. Be sure and come back after Friday, and check with me. I do have something I think you will find intriguing though, come with me.”
As we walked behind her I could smell her perfume, it was always the same, and she wore shiny dresses that looked like the ones you’d see back in frontier days. She had a strange smile, almost like she had lots of secrets she wanted to tell you but couldn’t.
“Here we go,” she stopped in front of a shelf filled with old dishes and glassware. Reaching up she brought down an old tarnished clock.
“This clock is very pretty when it’s cleaned up, but it’s the story behind it that makes it so special.”
She gently held it for me to look at. At first I thought it was kind of junky, but then I started to see the pretty flowers that went around the small face. It wasn’t very big, about the size of a large coffee cup. The more I looked at it the more I could see its beauty.
“Here, let’s go clean it so you can see how really pretty it is, and I’ll tell you the story, at least the story I was told.”
She got a jar of paste, and using an old cloth started to clean the little clock. We sat on an old couch that she called a Fainting Couch.  Her voice turned soft as she began her story.
“Many years ago there was a young lady named Mary. She lived alone since her parents died when she was only 20. Mary was painfully shy so she didn’t have many friends, and she rarely went out. But one night she went to a friend’s party, and met a handsome man named Adam, and to the surprise of everyone including Mary they started a courtship.  Adam was her first love, and she cherished him. Many women’s hearts were broken when he proposed to Mary.”
I tried to settle back and pay attention to the story but I was getting a little bored, and I could feel Jared fidgeting beside me.
“They had decided to get married on November 9th. He was going to pick her up in a fine carriage and they would be married on a cruise to Paris.  She thought it very romantic.”
“About a week before the wedding Adam brought Mary a gift. It was a beautiful clock with flowers around its face.”
I sat forward, now interested, “I bet it was this clock!”
Mrs. Rhodes smiled her strange smile, “Yes this clock, and she treasured it. Every night she would wind it up before bed and count off one more day until the wedding.”
“Finally it was the night before the wedding. Mary had her trunks packed, her beautiful wedding dress placed in a bag. She wound her flowered clock one more time. Adam would be picking her up at ten in the morning, and by this time tomorrow she would be married.  She hardly slept that night.”
“The next morning Mary sat by the front door with her trunks and wedding dress, and eagerly awaited her husband to be. Time seemed to drag and ten o’clock came and went. Soon it was eleven, then twelve, and so on until it became dark.”
Oh boy, now I was feeling sad for Mary. How terrible to sit that long waiting for someone.
“So what happened to Adam?” Jared finally came to life.
“Mary never knew for sure, there were rumors he had run off with some other woman with lots of money, but she wouldn’t believe that. As the years went by she continued to wind her clock, and once a year on November 9th she would sit by the door with her trunks and wedding dress, and wait for the carriage that never came.”
“Friends stopped by from time to time but Mary no longer answered her door. Eventually they got worried enough to have the police check on her. They went to her home, and when she didn’t answer their knocking they forced their way in. There, sitting by the front door, were the skeletal remains of Mary dressed in her wedding gown and holding her flowered clock.”
I gasped, “Poor Mary! To be all alone and waiting all those years for Adam.”  I could feel tears starting and quickly turned my face from Jared.
By now Mrs. Rhodes had finished her polishing, and the clock gleamed. The flowers were beautiful once again.
“You know this clock needs someone. It doesn’t work anymore but it’s still very pretty and would look lovely sitting on a mantel or a bed stand. Would you like it Hailey?”
“I would love it,” I whispered softly, “but I doubt I can afford it.”
“Just consider it a gift from me. It needs someone to care for it, and I can see you’re that person. By the way, tomorrow is November 9th,” she smiled her strange smile.
Carefully carrying my new gift, Jared and I left the store, and got on our bikes.
“Wow that was nice of old Mrs. Rhodes. I have to admit sometimes I think she’s a little creepy, but not today. What a story about your clock, do you think it’s true?”
“She could have made it up, did you see her smile? Then again, maybe it’s true; I guess we’ll never know.”
When I got home, I put the clock on my bed stand. I couldn’t help thinking about poor Mary sitting in her wedding dress holding it, waiting and waiting.
That night before I got into bed I tried to wind it, but the little knob was too rusted. I turned off my light, and still thinking of Mary, went to sleep.
Something woke me. I lay quietly, straining to see or hear what it was. It was pitch black; no way could I see anything. As I listened, I realized there was a different noise in my room. It was a ticking sound, but I didn’t have a clock. Suddenly I froze, the ticking sound was next to my bed, right where I put Mary’s clock! My hand shaking, I turned on my lamp, and looked at the little flowered clock. When I’d put it on my stand it was stuck on six o’clock, now it was ticking and showing two o’clock.
I could barely breathe as I picked the clock up and turned it over. Some of the rust had been removed, and when I tried the knob, it turned this time. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead as I remembered that it was now November 9th. I looked back to where the clock had been, and my throat tightened. Caught on the corner of my stand, was a piece of yellowed lace, the kind of lace you’d find on an old wedding gown!


Post a Comment