The wedding was an intimate affair, officiated by the local clockmaker as no holy man would sanction such an affront to the sacrament of matrimony.
Though young and with a beauty unmatched in all the village, she had chosen not the romantic overtures of the men who lined her path with rose petals and promises of undying devotion, for she knew that beauty was fleeting and a man’s head could be turned, while time was eternal.
Round as the harvest moon, of alabaster smooth to the touch, the tick-tock of its rhythmic beat nestled between her breasts synced in perfect rhythm with her own internal time piece.
On days when time seemed to steal the day, she would turn the clock’s hands back to dawn. And when the day dragged endlessly beneath the scorching heat of a summer sun, she would set the hands forward and the coolness of an evening breeze would caress her brow until one day she lost track of time altogether.
In the rest of the village, time passed without concern for lives born and lost. Soon the woman who had married her clock was not even a memory for most. Asphalt replaced cobblestone, brick homes with thatched roofs were razed and replaced by tall steel and glass structures that barred all sunlight from her home and the woman who married her clock found herself alone in a time moving so fast that neither her beloved clock nor her own heartbeat could keep up.
And so it was that the grandson of the clockmaker who had married the woman and the clock found both on his door step one morning when he went out to open his grandfather’s shop.
“Please. You must help me,” the woman who married the clock said. “I’ve come to break my marriage vows. Time is not something to be tampered with and I have been very foolish.”
The woman who married the clock was as young and beautiful as the day his grandfather had performed the wedding ceremony, and the grandson fell quite completely in love with her.
An accomplished clockmaker himself, the grandson took the porcelain timepiece from the woman who married the clock’s hands and beckoned her inside. At his workbench, he carefully removed the clock’s inner spring, silencing its tick-tock for all time.
“And so you are free,” he said turning back to the woman who had married the clock. But instead of young and beautiful, the woman standing before him was now frail and old, and barely able to see through eyes near blind with cataracts. And though the grandson of the clockmaker who married the woman and the clock was heartbroken, he took her gently by the arm and led her into the living quarters where his grandfather sat alone on a small loveseat next to a cozy fire.
“Grandfather,” the young clockmaker said. “I have brought you a friend.”
Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, Five:2:One, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Blue Fifth Review, Hippocampusand Connotation Press, among others. She lives in California where she drinks copious amounts of fine wine and rides horses, though not at the same time. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.
Artwork: Lara Zankoul, It’s time