This post is very different to what I usually write. Time to try my hand at a bit of fiction with today’s Daily Prompt: The Clock. “Write about anything you’d like. Somewhere in your post, include the sentence, “I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock.”
I struggled in vain, my fear and anger fuelling the adrenaline coursing though my veins. I was firmly anchored to the chair, my wrists and ankles deadened by the tightness of the tape. Rubbing my face against the shoulder of my pullover in a futile attempt to remove the tape placed over my mouth, I could smell Emily’s perfume. Emily. Please don’t come home tonight. Please stay at work late, please go for a drink with the girls after work, please get stuck in a traffic jam but please, for the sweet love of Jesus, don’t come home.
It had been easy for Anna to get into the house without me hearing her. I’m always half asleep when I surface in the afternoon, and she knew it. All our married life I had worked nights, and she had gradually replaced my presence in the evening with the bottle. First a glass of wine, then two, until I regularly found her asleep on the couch on my return from night shift. Eyes closed to the fresh-faced early morning T.V presenters, she was spread across the couch with the empty bottle at her side, the glass hanging from her fingers.
The bottle comforted her, never asked her any questions, and was always there when I wasn’t. I was no competition, and she couldn’t face life without her newfound companion. The divorce had been messy, and Emily had been my saviour. Anna had never forgiven me.
She hit me hard on the back of the head as I entered the kitchen.The wine bottle smashed with the impact, and I found myself lying on the tiles in a myriad of emerald coloured shards, staring up from between her dirty trainers into her laughing, drunken face. “Don’t tell me that hurt; it was empty, you wimp!” I rubbed the back of my head. “Wouldn’t be like you to waste alcohol,” I fired back.
She crouched down beside me. “Drink this, it’s aspirin”, she said as she pulled my head backwards and forced a small glass of liquid down my throat. Shortly afterwards, everything went black.
When I came around, I was firmly taped to a kitchen chair. She had swept all the objects off the table, and the floor was littered with opened mail, fruit and smashed crockery. A photograph and the kitchen wall clock had been neatly put in their place. I stared woozily at the picture of Emily and I, immortalizing our happiness after she had scraped me out of my misery and catapulted me into back into life.
Anna took a marker pen from the pen pot. She slowly and deliberately penned a moustache and beard on Emily’s face. Despite the rage in the pit of my stomach, I feigned disinterest. “Why the clock?” I asked her. She grinned, and pulled a package from her rucksack. She thrust it in front of my nose. “See this? I made it. All by myself”. Wires, dynamite. Oh, Christ.
She turned the strange contraption over and over in her hands, her eyes sparkling like a child who had constructed a new imaginary world. “The therapist told me I should take up a hobby, do you remember? I bet he didn’t think it would be explosives. It’s amazing what you can learn on internet these days”. She pulled up a chair and started unscrewing the back of the clock. “I’ve been practicing this every week for months. Wouldn’t want to miss the fireworks for a silly mistake, now, would we?”
As she talked, she fixed wires to her package. She admired her work with satisfaction then propped the clock up carefully against the block of dynamite before heading over to the door, wires in hand.
“You’re not going to do that? Surely not? What would killing us do to make you happier? You’ve lost the plot, Anna, you need help. Let me help you”. The panic was growing in me. She returned, kissed me on the forehead and stretched a piece of duct tape across my mouth. “This is part of my training,” she whispered softly in my ear. “You see, I’ve met someone. If I get this right, he’ll take me on. Remember the therapist? He wanted me to find a job to get over the alcohol, right? Well, it’s done”.
Anna held my face in her hands, her clear blue eyes boring into my soul. “She’ll be home soon. She’ll open the door, and the dynamite will blow. Time over. That’s good enough for me. If I can’t have you, neither can she”.
She grabbed her bag and stepped over the glass and debris to the stove. Slowly, deliberately, she turned all the knobs. “Oh, by the way. The clock’s not part of the equation; it’s just for you to see time go by as slowly as it did for me when you ran off with your redhead. Watch that clock!”
She climbed through the window, closing it carefully behind her. I concentrated on the sound of the gas hissing out of the hobs and the ticking of the seconds hand as it made its way slowly but surely around the clock face.
As each second passed by, Emily got closer. The hourglass was running out on us. I concentrated on the photo. Emily’s smile, her green eyes, her red hair. I twisted my arms desperately to stretch the duct tape, but it was as cold and unyielding as Anna had ever been. I heard the car on the gravel. The engine cut out. I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. The key turned in the lock, and the door handle moved slowly downwards.