After two sleepless nights, I knew one thing for certain. I hated the clock. Detested it with a passion. Tick followed Tock with uncanny precision. They were not the worst though. A grade above them was the snarky krrrrssshhhhhhh that cheerfully reminded me of another minute wasted on hating the blasted clock.
And then there was the bell. I knew the clock by heart now. Any minute, the hand would move to 59. I hated 59. No matter how often I wished for it to break down, the bell always came. Cheerful fucking bell.
Every time it rang, it reminded me of the will. Williams, the family lawyer, had a big gleeful smile on his wrinkled old face when he proclaimed that I would have to sleep in my aunt’s bedchamber every night. I had to keep all the items in it in place, including the clock. I had to agree to these terms, or the house wouldn’t be mine.
I didn’t even wonder about that peculiar statement. I signed the necessary papers and within moments the house was mine.
I’d fallen in love with it the moment I first saw it as a spindly five year old, trembling next to my slowly dying mother.
To me the big Tudor house looked like a palace for a queen. And a queen she was, my aunt Prudence.
Even though I’d expected it minutes before, the little cheerful bell managed to sneak up on me as it rang three times. I rolled over and pressed my face into the pillow. “Bloodyfuckingcuntofaclock!!!”
I hit the light switch, pulled the useless ear plugs out of my ears and jumped out of bed. I stood in front of the clock and wondered what aunt Prudence had been thinking when she wrote the will. Ever since I came to live with her, the day I met the house, I had assumed she’d loved me a great deal.
That was its final challenge. I didn’t hesitate one moment, I tore the clock from the wall and I threw it on the floor. I grinned with satisfaction when it shattered into a million pieces.
I walked to the dressing room to get the dustbin, walked back and started to put the parts of the clock in it. Every tunk! ding! swish! bang! was pure satisfaction.
Then I noticed a folded piece of paper, stuck to the back of the clock face with pink tape.
Aunt Prudence had loved pink. I trembled when I pulled the tape from the metal. I tossed the clock face in the bin and cautiously unfolded the paper.
I assume I am feeding the geraniums you’ve had planted on my grave when you read this. If I am still alive: why in the name of all that is holy are you killing clocks in my bed chamber?
I do have to admit, it gave me great pleasure to find the clock for you. How it came into my possession is a story for another letter. You will find it in time, and all the other letters I have left for you in the house. And that brings me to the point of this letter.
You may think you have time aplenty. You do not. Every minute you’ve hated this bugger for ticking away your time, you have wasted time on something utterly unimportant.
I want you to go and find a man who loves you like my Arthur loved me, and then when you have him in your grasp, I want you to fill this house with the pitter patter of children’s feet. Then I want you to leave the house to one of your children, a daughter. This house needs a woman who loves it. Just like my mother did before me, and my grandmother before her.
Live each minute with the same zeal you reserve for eating blackberry pie, and you will live a life of greatness. Now, clear the clock away and go back to living your life.
The next letter is in the Library. Have fun finding it. Might take you quite some time, though.
Love, forever and always,
I put the letter down and brusquely pushed the tears from my cheek. I gathered the last parts of the clock and put them in the bin. I stared at the bed, and then sighed, staring up the ceiling. “Oh bloody bite me!”
I could almost hear her laughter, the sparkling laughter of a woman who knew joy intimately. I put on a robe and ran down the stairs to the library. I stared at the rows and rows of books and sighed. This would be a long night, but it would be worth it. Besides, one would not want to waste any more time on matters utterly unimportant. I laughed for the first time in weeks, and moved my attention to the A.