Thursday, July 31, 2014

Prompt: Out of Time

Jeff was six the first time it happened. Dragged up to his grandparents’ boring house in the middle of nowhere for the weekend, he’d been shooting baskets with his dad’s old ball that needed air, until he got tired of that and came inside to throw himself on the floor while the grownups talked and drank cocktails and smoked stinky cigarettes. He lay on faded orange shag carpet with his arm over his eyes, and gradually he became aware of the big clock ticking in the corner. He didn’t have to look to imagine the big pendulum swinging back and forth, and slowly his breath steadied in time with the clock.

He was hot and tired and hungry and impatient for the grownups to stop talking. And all of the sudden, they did. All at once. Completely. Jeff felt a chill across his chest, and goosebumps ran along his arms. He turned his head and opened one eye, peeking at his mom, who was sitting on the sofa closest to him. She was frozen in place, holding her glass tilted in front of her lips, her mouth open in a laugh.

Jeff bolted upright, staring at his grandparents, leaning together as they always did on the opposite couch. His grandmother’s cigarette had a spiral of smoke frozen in place above it. His grandfather had his foot off the ground, where he’d lifted his leg to shift his bum knee.

Before he could move, they did. His mom startled. “What’s with you, Jeff. You sat up so fast there, I nearly jumped out of my skin.” He turned and stared at her with wide eyes, saying nothing. She smiled and crinkled her eyes with a question, but didn’t pursue it. Her father stood and said, “Let’s get the table set for supper, Bud.”

Jeff thought it was the clock, somehow. He never tried it again. After awhile, he told himself it had been some sort of a dream. Cause that couldn’t be real, right?


Ten years later, at Josh Stevens’ legendary party, Jeff ate a brownie while the girl handing them out giggled. He was leaning against the living room wall, nursing a Coke bottle and watching everyone laughing as they got drunk…or something. Through the crowd, the chime of the mantel clock caught his ear. He glanced over and noticed it had an elaborate set of gears in the front. He wasn’t thinking anything special as he started watching them click around and around. Until they froze, and the whole room went silent. Jeff pushed off the wall and stared around him. Everyone was frozen in place. Suddenly, the memory of his grandparents’ clock struck him, and he laughed aloud. “No way!”

To be continued…

Dogs in House

Music Playing
Eric Clapton, “Change the World”

Time writing
25 minutes

July word count

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