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Clocks

Virginia didn’t always take the long way home; or maybe she did. She felt apathetic towards time.

On her left, she passed by the bakery owned by a dear (as ancient as she was) sweet soul who lived but five houses down the narrow street from her. She watched the run-down, yet popular rustic building fade into the blackness of the evening as she continued her drive.

She was a darling old woman. Virginia would often stop by her equally ancient home and lounge in the parlor with a sweet cup of tea prepared with too much sugar. She would never complain though; she treated the taste with the same apathy as time.

“You know,” the dear old woman would say, “I was such a young babe when I opened up that bakery. Cupcakes, it was. Cupcakes lured all of the youngsters and their parents in on Sundays after church, or Fridays after work. Those were the busiest times, you know.”

Virginia would politely nod her head and smile. The poor woman had nothing else to talk about, it seemed. Just cupcakes and bakeries.

“But it’s not the same anymore. These days, cupcakes aren’t really a special treat of any sorts. Kids come in and complain about how they want two instead of one. When I was a just a child, I swear to ya Virginia, I wouldn’t even think of being so greedy. But kids these days…”

Virginia herself was just a young woman of twenty-one, but she’d agree with the sweet lady, “Oh my - it’s a shame, isn’t it? Just a shame. So greedy, those kids can be.”

And the old woman would nod with a slight frown. Virginia found it ironic - complaining about more business. It seemed silly to her.

She’d leave the parlor and kiss the old lamb on the cheek, bidding her a wonderful night, and thanking her for the sugary tea she wasn’t fond of, but drank nonetheless.


On this particular evening, she decided not to visit her aged friend. She went right to her house, down the narrow cracked street, past the old woman’s home, and into a red bricked driveway. At the moment she made that left turn, she deeply regretted arriving.

On her front steps lied a vase. It was very bright pink and contrasted wonderfully against the rotted wooden steps. It was pretty. Virginia looked at it for a moment. She turned the keys and pulled them out of the ignition. She unbuckled her seatbelt. She stared at the pretty pink vase for quite some time until her eyes caught the white roses protruding from the frilly top. That’s when she got out of the car.

She took a few steps, subconsciously quickening her pace with each stride:

one,

two,

three four

fivesixseven.

Once she reached the stoop cradling the delicacy of the pale while roses and the pretty pink vase, she looked down.

“Maybe they’re not for me,” she thought, as she gazed so interrogatively into the flowers that she felt she knew them for quite some time.

She smiled. Pretty flowers, they were. So precisely placed - from their relation to one another to the pedals so perfectly designed in nature.

And then some sort of cloud came, or maybe it was more like a sun shower; she wasn’t sure, but something certainly came, forcefully and suddenly. The smile faded from her face as quickly as it erupted. Virginia glided into the front door. She locked it behind her, desiring nothing more than a few hours of a simple nothing.



She sat up in her bedroom, watching the clock. It calmed her. If she concentrated on nothing but the time, the rest of her seemed to melt away into a puddle under her bed, where it was so dark she couldn’t even make out the outline of things.

A ringing broke her trance of tranquility. The phone? The doorbell? Yes, the doorbell. Why the doorbell?

She remembered she had locked the door. She got out of bed and headed downstairs without the slightest trace of haste. Her feet seemed to resemble pixies, moving so innocently and smoothly through the well-known curves of the house.

She didn’t want to think of that gift lying upon her front steps. She’d rather be sitting in a parlor with nectar tea and trite conversation.

She unlocked, and turned the doorknob.

“Oh, you’re back,” she timidly acknowledged the man at the door. He was holding the pretty pink vase with the delicate white flowers and though it was dark she could see the reddish glow illuminating from the driveway as the fluorescent streetlight shone upon it.

“Did you see these flowers? They reminded me of you, you know, all white and pretty and I thought you’d like them. You do like them, don’t you? I was thinking about you all day and just couldn’t wait for you to get home…” he carried on, but Virginia paid no attention. He was gleaming with pride, obviously very pleased with himself for choosing such beautiful roses. He resembled the bright streetlight - just beaming with a smile that emitted nothing but sweet tones and intentions, but Virginia knew better.

“Yeah, yeah, I did.”

“Don’t you just adore them?”

“You know…”

“Yes, yes. Your favorite color is red - I knew it. I should have chosen the red ones; God, I’m such an idiot.”

“No, no, you’re not. Don’t say that. It was very sweet of you,” Virginia tried to sound sincere.

His smile faded, slowly and quickly at the same time. Virginia wasn’t sure when he began to frown, but once she noticed, she looked down at her bare feet, and took a step outside.

“You know,” Virginia began. She was interrupted.

“My goodness, you look absolutely beautiful in the moonlight,” the man sporadically concluded.

But it wasn’t the moonlight; Virginia knew that. Where was the moon, anyway? It was streetlight. Artificial streetlight.

He placed one arm around her waist and went to pull her in, presumably for a kiss.

But she pulled away. And with one swift pixie move, she snatched the vase from his hands. She looked down at the pretty pink glass and the innocent snowy roses. She brought the vase up to face and smelled the light aroma emerging from the pedals. She closed her eyes. She took it in.

The man admired her pretty, sleek hands. White and fragile, much like the roses.

Without any warning at all, she threw the vase over the few rotted boards of wood and shattered the pretty pink glass against the glowing red driveway. The water puddled around the injury like blood, and the roses fell in a helpless heap of discomfort.

He looked at her, his eyebrows drawn in, making a ‘V’ of anger, or maybe confusion. Virginia couldn’t tell, and she didn’t really care.

“Why did you do that?” he was direct with her.

“Flowers die,” was her simple reply.

“What? Of course, but….” the man went down the steps to recover the fallen flowers.

“They’re just clocks.”

“Clocks? Virginia, what are you talking about?”

“Don’t you see? They die. They come to an end. Like….” she couldn’t get herself to continue.

“Like what? What, Virginia, darling, my dear, what?”

“Like us; don’t you see? Love is a clock and a flower is a clock and.…,” her voice was rising.

“Virginia, you’re not saying what I think you’re saying, are you?”

“I’m composed of nothing for you anymore! There is not a bone in my body or a hair on my skin that could attempt to lie and say I love you! The flowers have run out of time. And time - oh! time is such a silly concept.”

He didn’t say a thing in return. He took a step back, stepping into the blood of the roses.

“I hate flowers,” she stated with confidence and defiance. She lifted her dainty left hand from her side and stared at it for a moment.

Virginia cut the wirings of her clock, stopping time and diminishing all of the past minutes she had ever experienced with that mundane, familiar ticking. She let it fall out of the cracks between her fingers. It made a thump as it hit the wood.

She couldn’t bare to look the man in the eye. Virginia turned around, looking at the ground, and went inside. She locked the door.



She took a deep breath. Virginia thought about the sweet old woman and the greedy kids. She never enjoyed cupcakes. Or maybe she did.

She seemed apathetic towards the matter.



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