The Echo of a Ticking Clock

June 1, 2009
By Reagan Payne BRONZE, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Reagan Payne BRONZE, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

It strikes one, two, three, six! Pedestrians on the streets of New York pick up their pace after a quick glance at the Rolex on their right wrist, sighing and wondering how they are already ten minutes late for that important business meeting. Teenagers alarm clocks screen at the crack of dawn, and with purple rings under their eyes they roll out of bed wondering if they will ever get a good night’s sleep again. We are all mocked by the clock. The ticking as seconds whiz by are a constant reminder of how much we need to get done, and how little time there is to fit everything into our busy schedules. Our Days filled with family, friends, work, school, traffic, parties, homework, sports, church, band, reading, running…running late. No matter how badly we need those few seconds to just catch up with life, or to take a break and relax, the clock still chimes as another hour passes.
A sixteen year old brunette with a jungle of hair jutting out in all directions rises from bed, on the dreaded first day of school. Her head pounds and swirls as she reads the ridiculously early numbers on her digital alarm clock. With sweaty palms she slams the snooze button, and wonders why it is SO HOT. The day before she had been excited to see all of her missed peers and hear about their summers, but as the first day of school dragged on she became more and more annoyed with the laughter and chatter of everyone around her. The teachers booming voices drilled holes deep into her skull, and as she felt like she was burning in a fiery inferno. Instead of scanning the crowd of excited students for familiar faces to talk to, she kept her eyes glued to clocks on the wall counting down the hours until she could go back home and sleep.

Hours later she awoke with a start. A dancing strip of light across her bedroom floor caused a quick panic, and the gleaming red numbers on the clock beside her bed showed that she should be sitting in Spanish class at that moment. As her eyelids dropped, the gleaming red numbers and the panic that had temporarily engulfed her faded as she once again sank into sleep.

Later that day, a hand pressed against her damp forehead and then guided her to a silver minivan. In the doctor’s office she was told that the doctor would be “right with them” and after 2 naps and four glances at the sterile clock her name was finally called and she trudged into a white room, where a needle gleamed in the hands of a nearby nurse. After this needle slid into her vain, the blood tests confirmed the reason for all of her excessive sleeping: mono. Too exhausted to have any emotional reaction to this news, she simply accepted it as all the more reason to go back to sleep.
Fluttering eyelashes proved to the girl that she was in fact awake, and her aching body proved that her diagnosis of mono was not a dream. She wanted only to lay in the silence and darkness. Her thoughts as she slowly shifted to her other side floated to school, and what she was missing. The new classes, new people, old friends, a lot of homework, noisy hallways…and as her headache increase tenfold at the thought of noisy hallways a banging arose from down the steps. Her dad must be doing the dishes she thought, and was immediately annoyed. Then she heard her sister singing in the shower next door, and a muffled television playing the news. Her entire family was creating a ruckus and as she closed her eyes again it took her a few moments get back to sleep. Not only because of the faint noises, but from the aggravation that her family was breaking the peaceful silence that she so wanted, and therefore wanted them to just go away.

Silence. Darkness. Though these were embraced upon awaking before, today the girl had more energy. She threw off the covers and sat on the edge of her bed. Only days ago she had been bothered by her family breaking the silence, but now it was the silence itself screaming. This silence closed in on her, and she made her way across the room faster then she had moved in days. She hit the “on” button on the stereo, and as a blue clock flashed on Rihanna’s “Disturbia” blared from the speakers. Satisfied with the intense base as company, she switched on the lights and let her eyes adjust to light. She wanted to turn the lights back off when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, but the eerie darkness and silence combination from before was too much to bear. So was the sight of her face, completely drained from color, eyes blood shot, and skin sticky from a 102 degree fever. She realized how truly sick she looked, but there was more than just physical ache shown on her face. She observed the downwards curve of her lips and almost figured out what else was so troubling with the image staring back at her when a wave of exhaustion washed across her body. She turned back off the lights and silenced Rihanna, and as she lay in her dark and quite bedroom she felt as though the walls were coming in towards her.

The silence screamed louder, and louder! She ran down the stairs and turned on the TV, relieved as voices filled the room with a cacophony of cheesy game show music and audience reactions. Her heart accompanied the noise, pounding both from panic and the intense exertion of energy. The clock on the wall showed that the girl’s family would not be home for another few hours, and unlike before she wanted them to be in the house making familiar noises. She decided to watch “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” to pass the hours until her family returned. As Meredith handed Jeff, a big nosed man with a hair loss problem, a check for $1,000 dollars she started to wonder what Jeff was going to return home to. Was he ever woken up by the banging of pans, or was his house always eerily silent? At his home town were family and friends cheering Jeff on as he used his lifelines to answer an array of questions? While imagining Jeff’s family and friends, the girl froze despite her raging fever. She thought of her own family and friends, and how much she missed them. Jeff’s face disappeared from the screen as she pressed the green power button, and silence once again filled the room. This silence wasn’t a companion, and the girl drew her knees closer to her as she sat alone thinking of all the people she loved and hadn’t seen in days.
The ticking of the second hand moving around the cream colored clock drew the girl out of her daydream. The ticking was insignificant to her, it signified nothing but the time between when she woke up and when she fell asleep. When she realized that all her friends were sitting in school, watching the minutes pass with great anticipation of their next activity, whatever that was she did not know, a tear tumbled down her check. She was curled in a ball, sitting in a silent dark room, with tears plummeting the leather couch beneath her wondering if all of her friends missed her as much as she missed them, when she realized that she could know what they were doing! Breaking through the silence the girl pounded up the steps and could not stand the few seconds it took for her cell phone to turn on. When the screen lit up, casting a glow over her tear stained but now smiling face, the phone rang over again and the text message and missed call icon flashed. As quickly as the phone turned on, it shut off again, casting the girl into an even darker room, with silence screaming beyond escape. Her aching shoulders heaved as the tears returned, and she was faced with no other choice but to crawl back into bed and sleep away more time. Before pulling up the covers, she switched on the alarm clock, and with the cell phone in hand she sank back into sleep, hoping that tomorrow she could wake up to the buzzing of her alarm clock and join her friends and family in their busy lives, and enjoy every second of it.

The author's comments:
Mono made me appreciate what I didn't notice in everyday life.

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