Fiction Friday: Before the Pocket Watch

Today’s Fiction Friday post comes from a Google search for “Story Inspiration.” I saw this picture and the story snippet that follows is the result!

pocket watchBefore the Pocket Watch

The pocket watch. She didn’t know she still had it. It made sense though. How could you throw something like that away? She picked it up, wiping dust from the glass face. Her finger smudged across the surface. She pulled up the underside of her shirt and wiped it clean. Her hand closed around the cool metal, the chain dangling across her palm. He’d given it to her on her seventh birthday, just weeks before he’d moved in next door. It was dirty – caked with mud – when he scooped it out of his pocket, passed it to her with grimy fingers.

‘I found this,’ he had said, ‘for you.’

‘What is it?’ Kristen had asked, scrunching up her face at the blades of grass stuck in the damp dirt that coated the object.

‘It’s a clock,’ he’d said. ‘From a time machine. It was buried by the old mental institution. I saw the chain and well – don’t you want it?’ He rubbed it off then, scraping away the mud, polishing the face on his t-shirt.

Kristen had taken the clock. It was twenty three years ago but she could still remember the way his face had lit up. How proud and happy he seemed to be giving her this treasure. It hung off the mirror on her dresser for years. Sometime, she wasn’t quite sure when, it ended up in the bottom of a drawer. And now here it was again in her hands. A time machine, she thought. If only she could turn back time. Go back to that moment, relive their whole lives. Kristen tossed the watch into the box with all her winter sweaters. She hugged her middle. She couldn’t change a thing. She let her arms fall and turned around, surveying the almost barren room. She hated moving. Hated the boxes, the organizing, the empty walls with holes and naked nails where once her paintings had hung, where framed photos of the people she loved were on display. This room she’d shared with him looked cheap now. Sad.

“Kris?”

Kristen turned at the voice and smiled at Susan. “Hey.”

“How’s it coming?”

Kristen laughed and motioned around the room. “My life is almost gone.”

“Come on, Kris, this is the start of something new, it’s not-”

“Stop, okay. Don’t.”

“Maybe you’ll meet someone new. Maybe-”

“I said stop.” Kristen hung her head. There was no reason to snap at Susan. She was just trying to help. “I’m sorry, okay. I don’t want to talk about anything anymore. Life is what it is.”

“Yeah, sure.” Susan took several steps into the room, tape-gun in hand. “Is this box ready?”

“Yeah.” Kristen watched her friend tape it off. Susan didn’t ask about the pocket watch. She knew the significance.

“So that’s the last of it? Your dad’s going to come by for the furniture?”

“Yep.” Kristen forced a smile. “Thanks so much!”

Kristen tried not to look at the barren hall and empty rooms as she carried the box of sweaters to the waiting truck. She tried, instead, to believe Susan’s words were true. Maybe this was the start of something new, something better. All she’d known was Daryl. His was the first hand she’d held – when he was ten and she was seven. His were the first lips she’d kissed. He was the first man to run his fingers along her naked spine – the only man.

“Your new place is really sweet,” said Susan. “The garden? The trellis?”

“I’d hardly call four by four feet a garden.” Kristen stared ahead, trying, yet again, to figure out when she should have known. They hadn’t always been happy … or as happy as she’d imagined they would be. It was rough when he went off to University three years before her. He’d admitted to some flings. It had hurt. She’d spent the years pining for him, jumping every time the phone rang, checking her email twenty times a day. But they were just flings. He assured her she was the one he loved: the only one he ever would love. What a load of crap. “But you’re right,” she smiled at Susan, “it is nice.”

When Susan pulled the moving truck up in front of the little red house, Kristen tried to see the beauty in it. It was bright and cheery, though squashed between two large, more imposing buildings. She knew what that was like – she’d often felt pinned between the wills of her father and Daryl. Her father never really liked him. Kristen could never understand why. Now she thought maybe it was because he could see himself in Daryl. Kristen focused on the house. The paint was fresh. The door was new. The steps made of large rocks were charming. It would do.

Once all the boxes were unpacked, Kristen hugged Susan and declined her offer of dinner. She walked toward the back of the house. The setting sun cast rays of light into the little room that would be her studio. When they were younger, Daryl had always loved Kristen’s paintings. He bragged to his friends. He praised her talent. When they married he said he wanted her to keep painting, that his salary was enough for both of them. ‘Focus on your art and raise our babies,’ he’d said more than once. Despite her local success, the gallery exhibits, the couple thousand she brought in most months, after seven barren years he became resentful of her passion, chastised her to get a real job, mocked her when a painting stood in the gallery without an interested buyer. And that’s when the late nights started. But it wasn’t her fault she didn’t get pregnant. They’d both been tested. Everything seemed fine. It just hadn’t happened. It was true, her cycles were irregular and she wasn’t very good at remembering to take her temperature or check for fluids – the things that were supposed to indicate it was the right time to try – but lots of people didn’t do that.

Kristen set up her easel and pulled the box containing her art supplies to the centre of the room. She faced away from the view so the rays of coloured light would shine against the fresh white canvas. She’d spent weeks capturing the visions, the emotions that haunted her ever since that moment – walking into her living room to see Daryl’s bare ass bouncing atop of the cashier from the local health food store. She’d spent even more time painting visions and revisions of her own body, the intricacies of it, in an effort to figure out where the fault lay. It had to be her. Just a couple of days after they legally separated she heard the cashier was expecting. It was pointless to obsess over it all. She needed to try something new. Kristen closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She tried to return to a time before Daryl had entered her life. There weren’t many memories, but she found a few. She let them roll around in her mind, merging and growing. She opened her eyes and stared at the canvas, trying to see the images there. She dipped her brush in a swab of bright and glistening paint. Before the Pocket Watch – that’s what she would title this. From it, she would create her new life.

Do you have an idea for a Fiction Friday post? Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think I should write about next!

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