Emerging from what was the best sleep in awhile, I heard the voice of the radio host. I’d been listening to the regular guy for years and we’d gone through a lot together. He was off this week so I let the dulcet tones of his replacement bring me to ‘awake’ mode. I flipped over onto my back and waited for her to announce the time. I’d plugged my cell to charge downstairs last night and this station usually told us the time about twenty times an hour.
Turning my head to the window on my right, I could see it was light out, given that it was the day after winter solstice I figured it had to be after 7:30am anyway. They were playing a selection of silly Christmas songs that people had requested, I chuckled when the Bob and Doug MacKenzie version of ’12 Days of Christmas’ came on. I sang along, waiting for the news; they always announced the time with the weather. Not today. It figures the one time I wanted it.
I wasn’t in a rush or going anywhere in particular, being retired I had all the time in the world. It was also cold outside the blankets and I didn’t feel like moving just yet. Glancing at the radio on my left side table I noted with some frustration that the numbers read 3:23. I knew it was later than that, or earlier depending on your perspective. Blowing out a frustrated breath I whipped off the covers and gathered my clothes from the chair.
After emerging from the washroom, I glanced at the old VCR on the shelf in the sitting room. It too read 3:23. What was going on? When I’d descended onto the main floor my eyes went straight to the replica pendulum clock on the wall in the dining room. No surprise there, why would I think the time would be any different on this level of the house? Same with the microwave and oven, they both blinked green numbers repeatedly, 3:23. Okay, I yelled to the walls, I get it.
With what I considered a minor brainwave I snagged my keys and dashed out to my SUV. The Chevy had pronounced the same time as the house, ‘they’re obviously in cahoots’ I muttered on my way back in. Plugging in the kettle I got the tea things together and clicked on the TV remote. Maybe they’d have something on the news to shed light on the matter. I was losing my mind. That was surely one explanation, yelling at the walls and talking to myself in the driveway were signs, and the clock psychosis was the topper. As the kettle boiled I thanked it for coming in to work as the time pieces had all decided to go on strike. I could hear the anchorman on the Island news talking to an SPCA worker about the poor decision making that goes into getting children pets for Christmas. He then launched into a segment on Christmas cake and held up a poll declaring the majority of people didn’t like it. “Big deal, you like it or you don’t, get on with the news about the clocks stopping.” I gave up finally and changed the channel to the CBC, they’d been around a long time in Canada and would be more serious, I thought.
After watching a few seasonal segments, they went to commercial. I switched to the weather network, they always have the time at the bottom of the screen, click. I shook my head in disbelief, 3:23. It had to be later than that, even if it had been sixty-seven minutes before four when I got up, that was at least ten minutes ago. Had the clocks just stopped all together?
I snagged my cell and disconnected the charger from the wall, as I waited for my friend to answer the phone I stared out at the lake. It was a windy day, no sign of the swans today. The phone on the other end just rang and rang. Clicking off with disgust I dialed another, it was the same thing. The eternal ringing at the end of every call I made had started to freeze my blood. There was no way that every single person I knew, every office and business listed in my contacts couldn’t pick up. I’d had a few messages telling me that they’d return my call when the office opened. At some point I wondered if this ‘Twilight Zone’ entity had affected my cell as well so I made a couple calls from the landline. You guessed it.
I looked up into the snow heavy clouds and could just make out the watery orb of the sun. I marked it’s level and calculated it to be about nine. It was the Monday before Christmas weekend, maybe some of the offices were closed? I dared to take that on as a truth, my friends could be out shopping to beat the rush. Yeah, yeah that’s more likely than everyone I knew was just gone.
I picked a book from the shelf and made myself some toast, I reasoned that if I just relaxed and let some time go by then friends would call me back. I munched and absorbed some words trying valiantly to ignore the flashing digits on the stove. Of course, I’d tried to change the time, you know like you do after a power outage. They wouldn’t budge, none of the time keeping devices in my house had moved. I strolled slowly from the laptop 3:23, to the clock radio in the spare room 3:23 and then onto my husbands’ truck in the garage.
He’d been gone for a few months now and it hurt like hell, he’d left me well off but that didn’t salve the wound much. Unlocking the old Silverado, I cranked the engine and resolved to contact our friend who wanted to buy it, perhaps sometime after 3:23 I mused as the truck radio showed the same time. I shut the engine off with a snap and sat back in the drivers seat inhaling his scent. Memories flowed through my mind, one in particular when we’d driven the truck down to Victoria as part of a car buying trip for me, we were on our way back over the Malahat Highway in a rainstorm when his wipers just stopped, we were able to find our way to the outer lane and down a side road to get them fixed again. It was a heart-stopping moment but we’d been able to laugh about it afterwards, long after.
I smiled and sighed as I recalled his sweet face, then dropped out of the truck onto the cement floor. Rounding the truck bed, I looked up at the clouds gusting over the sky light. ‘A storm’s coming and bringing snow, I better get the shovel ready.’ Grabbing it from the old garbage can where I kept all my rakes and long handled yard tools I carried it through the laundry room and to the front hall.
I glanced at the clocks in the kitchen and wondered aloud at the need for three of them in a five-foot space. They still all flashed the same numbers, turning my back on them I washed my dishes and stared out the window at the chicken coop next door. ‘Where were they? The girls were usually up and pecking at their food at this time of the morning. Even in the wildest winds they’d come out, eat then huddle with each other for warmth in one corner of the pen. I always wondered why they didn’t just head back inside. Andrew had built them a kick-ass coop to stay warm and dry in, silly hens.
Chuckling, I supposed that maybe they had a clock in the coop that told them it was only 3:23 and too early for breakfast? I buckled down to some writing, determined to ignore the clock on the laptop to my left. Great writers don’t pay attention to the time of day when inspiration hits do they? Even un-published part time writers can focus on one concept of reality at a time. I was working on a contest entry, a memoir as it happened and was handwriting some key points in my life. Of course, as I wrote about the loss of my partner after only three months and twenty-three days ago I was struck with pain.
I sobbed for awhile, really expressing my grief. I’d been trying to be strong for so long, not sure why, it’s not like I had anyone to be strong in front of. After I calmed myself and washed my face I edited my notes. I gasped when I made the connection. At the very minute my brain, heart and soul acknowledged the connection all the clocks changed, both phones rang and I heard the comforting sound of clucking from next door.