We are pleased to announce that Lauren Bell will be joining STORGY as a regular contributor and we are all excited to welcome another fantastic writer onto the team. We are sure that you will enjoy reading her words and we hope you can show her some of the wonderful encouragement and support which has blessed our battered keyboards.
Over the next few days we will be posting several of Lauren’s short stories as a way of introducing you to her work, following on from which, Lauren will begin writing the STORGY way with a new and exclusive short story published online every month. The first of these is the brilliant ‘Clockwatching‘.
The hours fly by like dandelion seeds in the wind; the minutes infinitesimal matter, practically invisible yet amalgamating to form a whole. Something tangible. Something real. Something you can observe and measure.
Like he does.
By now it has become a subconscious ritual. The man glances at the clock just before it signals a new hour; the hands reminding him of miniature pickaxes, chiselling their way through time.
It is a swift process. Carefully executed. He is in awe of the mechanism of the clock, the mechanics of time and space, and what it all means to the working classes. How fundamental it is to their everyday lives, shaping their very existences, furnishing it with structure, routine, meaning.
He savours this last word like it’s a gift from the Gods – precious, priceless. He hears it in the distant recesses of his mind, sees it painted in bright neon letters in his most vivid dreams.
By day he spends his time assembling toys; small dolls, teddy bears, toy trains and painted soldiers – a much smaller and manageable society. They do not answer back. They do not poke fun or ridicule him. They sit, perfectly still, silent on his workbench and watch the world through fixed eyes.
The man’s workday begins at 6am and ends at 6pm; during this time his hands hardly stop assembling, his eyes watching the clock, when one of his colleagues pokes his head around the door and announces its lunchtime. The man goes over to his rucksack and retrieves a small cube of a lunchbox packed with fresh, flavoursome greens and a smattering of nuts. On his more daring days he’ll have packed some fruit too – perhaps a kiwi and a handful of grapes.
He sits down to eat, his legs grateful for the welcome relief, while his co-workers burst through the doors in search of wholesome sunshine. The man pictures the sun soaking into his skin, making him feel twenty-five again, dissolving those crow’s feet, the puckers stitched around his mouth, lifting his heavy heart.
The man looks at the clock. It is approaching the half-hour and his heart gives a quiet lunge inside his rail-thin chest. Even his flesh has a hard time covering the bony xylophone beneath. He is only halfway through the day. And for some strange reason, the second half of the day crawls by. He continues to glance at the moon-shaped clock face; although he is more conscious of the passing of time, and has to actively tell himself to lift his eyes. If he does it too soon it will only be ten to the hour, and this throws everything into disarray.
The man sees sunspots, blotting out the time on the clock; for a moment he is lost in a timeless realm unable to locate both himself, and whether it is day or night.
Outside, his colleagues revel in the sun-dappled delight, taking photos of clouds, trees, whole landscapes. The idea of freedom written in everything they happen to look upon.
Inside, he replaces his half-empty lunchbox back in his bag and wipes his fingers absent-mindedly on his trousers. With lunch now over, he can resume toy-making, though one thought persists, the cogs in his brain making a terrific whirring which coincides with the mechanism of the clock: what happens when the clock stops ticking? Who will be there to wind it up if my ticker stops first?
The toys say nothing. They do not move. But stare absently ahead, their ears growing accustomed to the continual thrumming of the clock, the hands moving like acrobatic windscreen wipers, while their glazed eyes watch the stitching together of day and night.