tick…tock, by Maria Kelly
‘tick tock….tick tock….’
The large wall clock used to be synchronized with the beating of my heart. It doesn’t sound like that anymore. First, it became more like ‘ti-tick to-tock….ti-tick to-tock….’ I used to be able to feel the measure of my wristwatch keeping the same perfect rhythm…could feel it tapping seconds out against my pulse. I stopped wearing it.
When my brother Dave and I were boys, time was not of the essence. Time was not passing us by. We were sure we were going to live forever. Dying was for old people, and we were YOUNG!
He went to California when he was twenty-three and got himself engaged to a hot California chick, a doctor. Beauty and brains.
I hadn’t heard anything from him in awhile. Then…
His fiance, Anja, called me with the news. She sounded pretty good, I thought, for having just lost the love of her life…then I remembered she was a doctor and probably saw a lot of death.
I got on a plane and flew out there to help tie up Dave’s affairs.
Anja took me to the storage bay where most of Dave’s things were. He’d had a lot of his old stuff put in storage when they moved in together. We found a bottle of wine, a corkscrew, and some old plastic cups. We decided to toast Dave. We plopped down on a beat-up sofa, coughing from the dust rising from the cushions.
“Why didn’t he throw this old thing out?”
Anja smiled. She lifted her cup, then stopped. “You know how he was. Such a pack-rat!”
I grinned. It sounded more like me than Dave.
“You look a lot like him.”
I sputtered, nearly choking on the wine. “I do?”
“Yes.” She stood and walked over to an ugly lamp. I never knew Dave had such terrible taste. She traced her finger down the side. Then, she started talking about how they met. She was a cardiologist, you see.
“Please don’t be angry. He didn’t want anyone to know.”
I yawned, thinking the flight from Buffalo was catching up with me. “I’m not angry. He knew I’d take it hard.”
We talked some more and at some point…I think I kissed her. I don’t know how it happened but it must have been the wine. My head got very fuzzy. I think I passed out on the sofa.
Then I had this crazy dream. I was strapped to a operating table. Anja was standing over me.
She was holding my dripping, bloody heart in her hand. She pulled her surgical mask down.
“You’re worried about this?” She turned my heart in her hands looking at it. It was still beating.
She smiled. “You won’t be needing it anymore. And I really wanted the set!” She pointed behind her. There were shelves with glass jars. Jars containing living, beating hearts. The one she pointed to had a label with Dave’s name on it.
She dropped my heart into another jar then turned to a table behind her. “You’ll do much better with this!” She spun back around and in her hands was an small alarm clock.
My eyes must have gotten wide because she laughed. “But first I have to set it! Now you go back to sleep!”
She plunged a syringe into my arm and I screamed.
It felt like I woke up immediately, but I know it must have been much later. I was in my hotel room instead of the storage bay with Dave’s stuff, and there was no sign of Anja. I ripped open the front of my shirt, but there was just my bare chest, smooth as a baby’s ass, like always.
I tried calling Anja, but kept getting her voice mail. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to her anyway. That dream really freaked me out. So, I settled things with Dave’s lawyers and went home.
A few days later, I noticed my heartbeat seemed timed to my watch and clock on the wall. Three months later it started to skip a beat. Now…it’s slowing down.
I hear it when I’m lying in bed at night…no longer able to keep rhythm with the clock on the dresser. ‘tiiiicccck……….toccccckkk’
As I close my eyes I hear her voice in my head…
I really wanted the set!
And I’m afraid of what will happen when the alarm goes off.