Every two weeks writers have the chance to take part in Soliloquies Anthology’s Flash Fiction contest. We publish a new single-word writing prompt as a starting point, and you write a story in 300 words or less. This winning story uses the prompt clock.
The first thing Robert noticed was the clock: a wooden box with a gold face and thin black hands sitting on the mantelpiece. From somewhere in the house, he heard Gloria humming. She had moved in the previous night, and the boxes she unloaded from the taxi now lay empty on the floor.
Robert hadn’t owned a clock or a watch since he left home ten years earlier. The second hand ate away at the day. The tick-tock of the time piece filled the otherwise silent room.
“You’re home,” Gloria said, entering unnoticed. “I’ve unpacked my things, hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not,” Robert said, pulling his eyes from the gold face. “Do you want to order takeaway?”
“I was going to cook us dinner. That okay?”
“Sure. Do you know where everything is?”
“Yes, I had a sort out earlier,” she said. “You relax. Should be ready in fifteen minutes.”
The clock showed five minutes past six. Gloria had already left the room.
Robert relied on his finely tuned body clock, a routine set in stone. Awake with the milkman, eating only when hungry, and filling the sunlit hours with writing and correspondences. The absent minutes and hours never troubled his day.
Now they dragged by as he sat on the sofa opposite the clock, unable to look away. The room drifted out of focus and that boy sat on the bottom steps in his parent’s country house again. He heard them eating dinner in the next room with his sisters. Not allowed to join them, he was banished to watch the grandfather clock in the hall. The large hands strangled the time from his grasp as his tummy grumbled.
“Dinner’s ready,” Gloria said, as the clock discarded another minute.
James Turner experiments in short form fiction and has been published by Molotov Cocktail, Short Story Flash Fiction Society, and ABC Tales, amongst others. He occasionally posts at @jturner27 and bloodbonesbricks.wordpress.com.