The stroke of the clock


“There was a sudden stillness like the gap between ticks on a clock, but the next tick never coming.” – Sadie Jones.

It is Monday morning. Instead of going to work, Vincent is busy in taking out the beautiful, decorative antique clocks from all the rooms of his house. They lay quietly and silently on top of each other in a  big blue plastic  box in one corner of the living room.

Destiny tries to sit up straight. The earth is spinning on its axis and flying through the space. How strange that despite all that speed and motion, she feels only the stillness. Her daughter slides into the bed and wraps her arm around her mother. “ You are fine mom, don’t you worry.” “ How about a selfie?” Destiny smiles a little leaning against her daughter. Destiny has eaten a little, sleeps for many hours as soon as she returns from work. Now the pain is relentless, but she does not want to take so many painkillers to dull her mind. Today at her office, the meeting is in the third floor. Destiny always take the stairs instead of the elevator so that it will be a good exercise for her legs.She stands at the bottom of the stairs looking up. It seems like a long climb. Go ahead, that’s my girl Grandma would say. Put one foot on the first stair, then the other one besides it like when you are two or three. Yes she can make it. Destiny climbs taking a deep breath; breath in, breath out just like she does in her morning pranayama.

Vincent returns from India after two months. Destiny is there in the airport to pick up her husband. From the driver’s seat Vincent looks at his wife. She looks so frail in her loose sea-green shirt. Only her  masses of thick wavy black hair, her sharp roman nose, her wide-set eyes like the rich dusky blue of a sky, seem youthful. Destiny turns her head. “ How was your trip? And your mother?” She asks taking a gulp  of cold water from the bottle. “ The trip was good and mom is fine. She was asking about you and the children. Also she has sent your favorite thing; one more antique clock.” Vincent replies with a quick glance at his wife.

At dinner Destiny takes a few bites of the vegetable curry  which seems like a three-course meals.  A deep fatigue descends on her. Rising with effort, she places the plates in the dishwasher. From the corner of  his eyes Vincent watches his wife’s tired face. Her dark brown eyes, underscored by purple half circles of exhaustion stands out starkly against the yellowish cast of her skin. Something is not right.“Let’s go to the check with the doctor. You look different.” He says taking the plates from his wife’s hand.

Next day in the doctor’s office Vincent sits with an open magazine on his lap and do not read a word until  he hears the voice of the nurse. Vincent walks behind the nurse to the doctor’s office.“ I am sorry to say that your wife has liver Cancer and it is in stage four…” The doctor says reading all the reports. “Only thing left is the pain management.”

The magazine hits the floor from Vincent’s shaky hand. He sighs and lines of worry and sorrow course deep paths from his nose to his chin. Destiny shakes her head, her thoughts flutter without order like the pages of a book in a capricious wind. “ It can not be!” she whispers.

Background noises fill in the silence that follow the whirring of the overhead fan and the sound of their heavy breathing.

Destiny sits in the backseat of the long, smooth silent car. Her lower lip is quivering, a tear is trickling out of her eyes. “ This is it then. I can not feel the time any more. It seems like the clocks have stopped ticking.” she says wiping her tears with the back up her palm. She continues her sentence. “ Take care of our children. I know you always do a good job. Keep it up.” She chokes on her own tears but with a small smile she turns her face towards Vincent. “ Be strong, imagine all the fun that you will have with the grand kids. Right?”

Vincent pats his wife’s arm. “ We have time. Let’s pray and hope that everything will be fine.” He says warmly. “ Also we have to visit all the beautiful castles in Europe and do lots of winter hikes, all your favorite things.”

“ Sure, hiding the truth!” Destiny says with a small quaver smile.She could feel the thinning of the veil, the certain between life and death, between the world and the next.  “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”


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