Marking Time

古時計Marking Time

There is one clock left that I wind every day.

Its bushings are worn; its face is cracked. Its gears jam and its chimes no longer mark the hours.

But each hard-won tick is a celebration of the life it has clocked.


This is my submission for this week’s gargleblaster challenge over at yeah write. The challenge poses a question and we have to answer it in exactly 42 words. Answers can be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

This week’s question is: Have all your clocks stopped?


 Image credit: Paylessimages @


Speakeasy: Teenage Dreams

Time Travel

Teenage Dreams

While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered, dumped unceremoniously on the table by the world’s most sullen teenage boy.

“What’s this?” I asked as I picked up the envelope. My name was written on it in blue ink.

Staying firmly in character, my son Matthew shrugged, a gesture that clearly took all of his strength to execute. Even Atlas would have felt bad for him. “Dunno,” he said, plunking his lanky frame into a chair and reaching for a box of cereal, “That new science teacher, Mr. Potter, asked me to give it to you.”

A frisson of electricity ran up my spine. Mr. Potter? I shook my head before my brain even went down that road. Just a coincidence, I figured. Potter wasn’t exactly an uncommon name. I glanced across the table at my husband, Alex, light of my life. He smiled and offered to top up my coffee.

As Alex poured the coffee, I opened the envelope and unfolded the letter inside. I expected an information sheet from the school, maybe about an upcoming fundraiser — or a letter about something Matthew had done and neglected to mention. I didn’t really expect it to be from him. But there it was, his signature at the bottom of the page.

Jacob Potter.

The letter itself simply read: “I told you I’d find a way back.”

I hoped the blood draining from my face wasn’t obvious to my husband and son. As casually as I could manage, I excused myself and made a beeline for my closet. I pulled the small metal box from the back of the uppermost shelf and sat on the floor with the box in my lap. The combination lock was still securely in place. Quickly, I walked it through the correct sequence of numbers and then carefully opened the box.

The documents sat there in a neat little stack. All the research, all the schematics, all our notes on the trial runs. And beneath that lay a handful of pictures. We looked so happy, it was hard to believe how things had turned out.

It’s not every day you invent a time machine. And it was probably even less common to use that machine to send your boyfriend back in time to deal with stone age humans and sabre tooth tigers. Rarer still, I imagine, to discover that said boyfriend had built a time machine in the stone ages so he could track you down and discover you’d raised his child as someone else’s son.

I sighed and put everything back in the box. Amazing what humans can accomplish with the right motivation.

I slipped back into my spot at the dining table and picked up my coffee. Alex smiled and Matthew grunted. I took a sip of coffee and wondered what it would be like to have a weekend alone with Alex. Then I wondered how long it would take Jacob Potter to decide he’d been better off in the stone ages.


This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy challenge #104.

This week, in honour of the Speakeasy’s official 2nd birthday, not only must submissions be under 500 words, but they must also deal with a theme, which is the past. Submission must also contain the following line (they don’t have to begin with it this week):

While we were eating breakfast, the letter was delivered.

Finally, submissions must reference the photo prompt, which is the following image:


Fractal image credit: Jaroslav Uher /