It was time to go.
After so many years in this house the outside world seemed unreal; foreign.
He could remember sitting in this very kitchen the day Cassie was born, counting out ten-minute-apart contractions, five minutes, two minutes! At 3.29pm the doctor washed the pink, squirming little girl right there, in that sink.
I remember her taking her first steps. It was 11.23am on a Friday; she was determined to get that biscuit, cheeky little thing. And how many times did she throw spaghetti and meatballs in my face?
Ah, the countless hours I spent watching her through that grease-smeared window; laughing with friends into the long hours of many summer nights, courting hopeful boys - but always keeping her curfew - and enjoying every minute of her beautiful life.
I'll never forget the day Cassie's phone rang. Monday, 6.57pm. If happiness makes time fly, sadness brings it to a standstill; every tick of the clock emphasising the aching hopelessness within her broken heart.
Seasons passed; slowly she learned to trust again. Marty, Cassie's friend, suddenly began calling two times a week; she would laugh that beautiful resonant laugh I'd grown to love. Within the month he was visiting every night, straight off the 6.02pm bus and into Cassie's arms. His love was real, it stood the test of time. Of course she said yes when he knelt before her on the cold, bare tiles right here, in this kitchen.
They were married in the registry office at 10am; by 11.30am they were home, ready to finish packing up the house. A fresh start, they said, in a lovely modern home; the kind of home with no place for the likes of me. Cassie placed me in the van; for the first time in fifty-five years, my hands drooped.
Nellie rumaged through the bric-a-brac like a cat through a trashcan, hoping to find something of value amongst other people's castaways. Doris and the other scavengers had been through first; they always seemed to get the good stuff. Not today, you won't.
With great gusto Nellie stepped forward, then let out a cry as her foot caught the box under the table; odd cutlery and mismatched Tupperware flew high overhead as she landed square on her tushie. Crimson tones adorned Nellie's cheeks as Doris and her over-painted friends guffawed at her expense. With mutterings not exactly suitable for the local church's thrift store Nellie turned and pushed the box away, knocking a mystery object off its boxy perch and landing it at her feet. "Well now, what's a handsome fella like you doing under this table?" The brown and gold square-framed clock caught Nellie's attention at once. It wasn't beautiful, as current fashionistas would class beauty, but she was enthralled by its presence all the same. With great disappointment she noticed its hands appeared to be broken; both pointed down to the number 6. Nellie caressed its streaky face. "What a shame you're not working; you'd look so beautiful on my kitchen wall."
As Nellie went to put the clock back in the box, she stopped and listened.
Tick Tock Tick Tock
Apparently the clock thought that was a splendid idea.
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