The Broken Pocket Watch – Chapter Fourteen

As we leave my Grandparents house, we turn to wave good bye. They shut the door, and we start walking home. After turning the first corner, Dad turns to me.

“You’ve seen them now.”

“I know. They are different to what I imagined.”

“They’ve always been like that. Complete opposites, but somehow they work together.”

“Is that what you and Mum were like?”

“I don’t know, maybe. I don’t think so. We’re both reasonably happy people. Nothing really brought us down. Just having a nice job, in the village kept me happy. And she never asked anything more from me. I think we were just happy in each other’s company. And that’s the best thing you can really hope for.”

“She sounds like a nice person.”

“I’m sure you’ll see for yourself. You can go back plenty of times and see her. She definitely knew you, probably better than I know you now. Which is a weird thought, if you think about it.”

We walk all the way back home, it takes forever. The sun is still high in the sky by the time we return, although it feels like it should be night time, it probably isn’t far off. We barely spoke on the way home, it was just a mission to put one foot in front of the other.

The second I sit down on my bed, I pull the watch out of my pocket. I have no idea what I’m planning on doing, I just feel like I need to do something. All of the things I could do with this watch. I could go back and see the world begin, see the City rise. It wouldn’t change anything as it’s already happened. But I’m not that interested in doing that. I just want to see my Mum. I’m kind of like Dad in that sense. There are things, I’m just not supposed to know or understand. I get the impression that he’s barely used the watch, that it’s something to be used with great caution. I understand completely where he is coming from, but I feel like I need to see my Mum. He probably would have been the same.

I think hard about my Mum, before I was born. When she had just moved into this house. It’s been a day of connecting, and I feel like I just need to be that little bit closer.

The world around me bleeps out of existence, and is replaced by the oddly familiar. The room is bare, but it’s the same room. I take a second to familiarise my surroundings, there is something that is odd, even though it’s all the same. This is the same bed I’ve slept in all of my life, but it’s a sheet, that’s the only difference. The rest of the room is empty. My stacks of books, the wardrobe, the light hanging from the ceiling. All gone. I stand and walk towards the door. It swings open towards me before I reach for the handle.

“Oh my God. I haven’t seen you for a while. Surely you could have used the front door. You can knock you know.”

I don’t know how to answer. She’s just standing there in front of me. What do I do? This is what I wanted, wasn’t it. But I can’t do anything.

“This is the first time isn’t it? You look younger than I remember. Come with me, I’ll get you a drink. Jik isn’t in at the moment, he’s out. So don’t worry about bumping into him. It’s so weird, isn’t it? All of this, I mean. I can’t believe I’m getting to see you grow up so early on. I hadn’t even thought about children when I met you. It’s that the reason I name d you Nymia. Because you told me that’s your name. Sorry. I don’t mean to be flustered, just remembering what it was like when I figured it out. Water okay? Good. There you go. Sorry we don’t have anything else to offer. I’ve only just moved in. I suppose you know that already though. I can’t believe this is possible. I’ve gotten used to it now, well sort off. But being able to go wherever you want. It’s got to be so free and liberating. All of the places in history you could go to. I don’t want you to tell me anything though. Alright? I know you can. I don’t know if you’ve thought about it, but I think I know too much already. Just don’t okay. Thank you. I don’t want to know. That’s not the beauty in life.”

“That’s okay. I won’t tell you anything.” I stutter after gulping down the water.

She’s just a little older than when I met her in the cafe. I can’t believe it. She’s really here, in my house. I start shaking a little, and hold back tears.

“I’ve been put forward for the scholarship.” It’s the only thing I can think to say.

“Oh wow, really. Well done. I can’t believe it.”

“You already knew?”

“Yeah, kind of. It’s weird this isn’t it. Sorry.”

“Don’t be, that isn’t your fault, or a problem at all. I just thought I could ask for some advice about the whole thing.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you are smart enough. Don’t aim for it, it will just happen. You have to write a letter like application. Which is easier than it sounds, and I’m sure your teachers will help you with that.”

“Thanks. I’m worried about it. I don’t think I can get it.”

“I was exactly the same, but somehow I was lucky enough to get it, I’m sure you will be exactly the same.”

“That’s what my Dad says, that you got it, so I’ll be fine. But that just isn’t how I feel.”

“You seem like a smart person, I’ve got faith. Plus if you actually get stuck with anything, ever at all. I’m always here for you, and I always will be.”

“Thanks.”

I think we both know what she means by that. But neither of us acknowledge it. I’m guessing she’s already figured out her future, she just doesn’t want it confirmed. That’s fair enough, I wouldn’t.

“It’s no problem, I would do anything for you, you know that. Your Dad would as well. He just believes in you. You will achieve great things.”

“I don’t know about that.”

“But I do. You will go to the City and you will make a difference. I believe in you.”

The exact words I needed to hear, even if I didn’t know it before. We spend a couple more minutes talking, and then I head back to my time. I end up curled up in bed, with the widest grin.

I wake the next morning, slightly confused. Everything seems so blurry. I feel like I haven’t slept, but it’s light outside. I didn’t wake througout the night, I slept right through. Time travel is horrible like this. I can’t believe it. I don’t think I can get up today. Thank god it’s Sunday. I can just lay here, until Monday. I don’t think I’d be able to move today, even if I wanted to.

I drift off again, but Dad wakes me up. He swings the door open, and his feet boom inside.

“What’s going on?” I ask, half asleep.

“Nothing, I just thought you might want to get up at some point today. Have something to eat. Yesterday was a long day, but you can’t just sleep through today to make up for it.”

“Sure I can, as long as you don’t wake me up again.”

“Very funny. But I made you a sandwich, extra mouldy cheese the way you like it.”

“Thanks. I was wondering what would kill me.”

“You’re welcome. But I made a mistake. This is fresh cheese. Straight from the farm this morning, but I suppose if you don’t get up, then it will suit you just fine.”

I groan and roll out of bed, my feet thudding to the floor. He hands me the plate, and I take a bite. I can’t believe how hungry I am. Yesterday really just took it out of me.

“Yesterday was a long day, for both of us, so we’ll have a nice easy relaxing day today.”

“Yay,” I say with no enthusiasm.

The rest of the day just blends into itself. Nothing really happens. I sit on the floor behind the shop door reading. My dad works, and in the evening he makes us some food. We both eat in near silence and then head to our rooms. I fall asleep almost instantly. I don’t even have time to think.

The same happens for the next couple of days. I try at school, but I just can’t focus. I’m completely drained. Things start to go wrong. I can’t keep up with things that used to come so easily to me. I just can’t do it. I need to stay away from the pocket watch for a while. It’s taking too much of a toll on me.

There’s a dull ache in my knees that won’t go away and makes me want to cry. It makes me move around slowly, and It won’t go away. I can’t decide if it’s from lack of sleep or walking more than I’m used to.

I don’t feel concious. I couldn’t tell you what I’ve done for the last few days. My bookmark is moving through my book, but I can’t remember anything that’s happened. I’m so tired. I need to get this scholarship, but I can’t if I don’t focus.

For the first time this week I haven’t fallen asleep instantly when my head hits the pillow. I have a moment to think, to realise that my body isn’t so drained. The pocket watch is sitting on the bed side table, next to that forgotten book. I look at it for a while, running my hand along the chain. It’s a nice watch. Thanks to lack of ticking, I can actually appreciate it. The beauty in the intricate design.

The next thing I know I’m waking up, the watch still in my hands. Tightly clasped in my fist. At least I’m aware I’m awake. I get up out of bed, and even though I’ve done this countless times, it feels alien and weird. My body feels shaky, and I struggle to keep my balance. I imagine this is what being drunk feels like, or something like this. I feel sick. But I know I’m not going to be, it’s just getting used to it again. Being awake and aware this early.

I have one aim at school today, focus. I want that scholarship. I want to get into the City. I want to join my Uncle and make a difference. That’s my one aim. But I’m throwing that away, I need to focus. I step out of the house with that in mind. I feel a lot better now that I’ve eaten something, even if it is just a couple of eggs. It’s still better than nothing. And a reminder that Dad’s eggs are better than that cafe around the corner. Another thing to remember, never go there again. I’ve been blaming this on the pocket watch, but it could just as easily have been the eggs from that morning, whenever that was.

I reach school in a somewhat daze. My mind zooming around many things that have been going on recently. I feel like I’ve completely zoned out again when I step into the building, I don’t remember most of the walk here, but at least I’m aware at the moment. I switch into auto mode and walk to my classroom and take my seat. No one seems to care that I’m here, they’ve just seen me being quiet as usual, sitting here, taking it in. The teacher walks in and starts speaking. I try to focus.

The next two hours, are just me trying to pay attention. Something about a war from generations ago, something about maths. Something about something. If it’s just the history I struggle with I can go back and watch it first hand, see how accurate her words are. Probably fail in the process, and then also mess my body up even more.

As the end of the lesson nears, I’m asked to stay behind again.

“Nymia, what’s going on.” Mrs Edina asks once everyone has left, and she’s closed the door.

“I don’t know, I’m trying. I’m just tired. We walked to the next village to see some family at the weekend, and I’m still catching up on sleep.”

“Hmm, I can see that you’re slipping. Please. I know you want this. If you need extra help, then I can give you it. We can do an extra lesson on Fridays if you need some catch up time.”

“I think that would help. I am trying.”

“I can see that, but you really need to just focus and get on with it. You’ve got plenty of time, but if you start to lose the grades, then it will be more difficult to regain them. The application for the scholarship starts early in the next year. We need to put people forward, they are selected and then you need to write your application letter. I know it seems like it’s miles away, but Winter is nearly here, and then that’s half of this school year over. After that you need to think about the end year exams. If you don’t pass them then you won’t get put forward at all. It’s that easy. You are more than capable. So lets meet up this Friday, after school.”

To be continued…

Hey, if you liked this chapter and want to read next week’s chapter early, then check out my Patreon page. Not only will you get early access to the weekly chapter, but also exclusive stories every Wednesday.

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A Month Goes by and Everything has Changed

It’s been just under a month since I last posted on here. I’ve moved into my own house, with my girlfriend and last month almost seems like a lifetime ago. It’s been hectic, crazy, irritating, stressful and all worth it. I have been writing while not posting on here. About once or twice a week, 500-1000 words. I’m happy with how that’s going. I haven’t been editing, which isn’t really a surprise. I was hoping to have a good chunk of The Broken Pocket Watch ready to upload on here once I got the internet back, but that didn’t happen. I will upload the next chapter this Friday and hopefully get back to a schedule next week.

I’ve filled my bedside table with all of my unread books, and will be making my way through them over the next few weeks, or months. There’s quite a few. At the moment I’m reading The Smoking Hourglass by Jennifer Bell, the first Game of Thrones book, Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar as well as King’s It. I’ve always had a habit of getting into too many books at once, but at least with them on my bedside table I can see them all there.

I started reading It after watching the superb film at the weekend. While it is no where near as scary as I was expecting, it was still a very good film. In my top 5 of the year so far without hesitation. The whole film flew by and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t want to wait for the next part so I picked up the book on the way home. I’m only about 50 pages in so far, but I’m enjoying it as well. This will be the longest book I’ve ever read, and probably will be the longest book I ever read unless I attempt Alan Moore’s Jerusalem.

Twin Peaks finished last week. It took me about a day to come to terms with that being the end forever. No more Cooper. This season had it’s highs and lows. There were a couple of episodes that felt way too slow. A floor sweeping scene that took so much time I forgot I was watching TV. Episode 8, which will forever be the weirdest hour of TV ever made. But it all came together at the end. I suppose it was stupid to expect the new season to be like the original Twin Peaks, and after Inland Empire I should just be glad I understood it at all. I think the ending wraps everything up quite nicely and gives the whole show an ending that suits it. I can’t wait to watch the whole season again and see what I missed.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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Moving

Today, 15/08/17, marks the day that I move into my own house. Even if that house is going to be pretty much empty until next week, that day has finally come. I will be heading there after work, with only the essentials to survive. That means that I won’t be able to upload stories on here for a week or so, since I won’t have access to the internet. I’ll still be writing, and the plan is to keep editing as well so we should be back to normal in 2 weeks at the latest.

I can’t believe how quickly this has turned around, this time last week it felt like it was never going to happen. Everything seemed to be moving so slowly and all I could do was wait. Every time progress happened other things stalled and nothing actually happened. It’s agonisingly slow, and then all of a sudden everything happened all at once, and we got the keys earlier today. It’s almost hard to believe. Years of saving, and preparing have finally paid off.

When I get the internet back I’ll write about living away from my parents for the first time and hopefully about how everything went smoothly and there wasn’t any big issues. We can only hope.

I’ve started writing a to do list every day. Not to do with moving, or even writing but everything. I’ve been told, by someone who studied psychology, that this will help me feel productive and like I’m working towards something instead of feeling like every day just slips past me while I sit around doing very little. I’m always sceptical of ideas like this and am a firm believer of forcing worries down until they explode and destroy the fragmented mess that I call a life in the first place, but as that doesn’t really work  I thought I’d give it a go.

I wrote on a scrap piece of paper on Monday, and achieved everything apart from one thing that was completely out of my control. I was waiting for a phone call which never happened, and when I rang them they said there was nothing they can do til tomorrow and they’ll call then. Adding that everything should be sorted. I’m sure it will be, but even if it isn’t there will be ways around it.

I also bought a little 50p note book to write my to do list in everyday. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it going but it is satisfying ticking things off, so maybe a while. I hope it helps.

So this is goodbye for a couple of weeks, until the internet is set up. I don’t know what I’m going to do without it. Watching Dvds instead of Netflix? Also missing the new episodes of Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones and Preacher. It’s not like the internet can spoil it for me, and I don’t really speak to many people. So not that big of a problem. It just means I’ll have a day of catching up when everything is sorted.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

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500 Word Short Story – Glen is Dead

Everyone will think I fired the gun. I didn’t. I just picked it up when I walked into the room. Why am I even worried about that. Glen’s dead. At least I think he is. There’s a lot of blood. I don’t want to touch him, he’s dead. Has to be. There ain’t no coming back from that. Three shots to the face. I remember that. Three bangs, ringing down the staircase I walked up, like a ghost passing me. The shooter didn’t pass me. Where did he go. There’s no way out of here. It’s a top floor flat, with two rooms. This one and the bathroom. The door was shut as I reached the top of the stairs, I opened the door and found Glen. He didn’t look at me, couldn’t have looked at me. But I heard his last words. From the stairway? Maybe. “I didn’t mean too.” I’m sure he didn’t. He didn’t mean to do much, still did it though didn’t he.

The killer must still be here. He has to be. Glen’s killer has to be in the flat. This isn’t a film, he wouldn’t have climbed out of the window and lowered himself to the street like some kind of ninja assassin. He’s still here. I heard the gunshots, they still ring in my ear as if the bullets are rattling around in my head and not Glen’s. Maybe he’s hiding under the bed, waiting for me to leave and make a hurried escape before the police turn up. Someone else must have heard the shots echo downstairs.

Why did I pick up the gun? I could have just left it on the floor, just inside the flat. Dropped as if the killer burst into nothingness, the opposite of the universe. Everything into nothing, almost like Glen’s mind right now. I should put the gun down now, I can’t hold it forever. It’s going to have my prints all over it, no denying that. They won’t find anyone else’s just mine, smudging the past into oblivion. Anyone else who held it would have been overlapped by me. That’s how fingerprints work, right? I don’t know.

He has to be in the bathroom. I don’t know why I know the killer is a he. He’s not under the bed, not small enough to fit in the wardrobe and would never be able to make it out of the window without dying from the fall. If I can catch them in the bathroom, then I’m in the clear.

I don’t know if the floorboards are moaning because I’m stepping on them, or because they are being force fed Glen’s blood as it seeps into them. Either way, the bathroom door weeps as I push it forward. I fumble around for the light switch with one hand, while holding the gun out with the other. Click. There’s no one in here, just me and the old cracker mirror with dried water spots. Why am I smiling?

 

The End

I was reading a few really short stories last night online, and wanted to see if I could write one.  I read a few tips and one stuck in my mind. Start in the middle. I tried to think of the middle of a story, set a limit of 500 word and wrote the entire thing in about 10 minutes and quickly read through it before uploading it. No real changes to the original draft. Maybe this is something I could try again soon.

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24

I’ve been 24 years old for the last day. So far feels very similar to most recent ages. Although 18 now seems like a million years ago, which it didn’t last birthday. My awkward 18th birthday party was 6 years ago, and feels a lot longer. I suppose that’s because at 18 I was looking forward, kinda, to going to university and the future seemed bright. But now, university is behind me and the future is as uncertain as ever.

During sixth form I was advised by many people not to do creative writing at university, that I would never make it as a writer and there was no money there anyway. I didn’t care about the money, and still don’t. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them. I could have a much better job, most jobs fit that criteria, which would mean more money. I could have given up on writing, or pushed it to the side back then and never tried to live my dreams. But thanks to my very supportive parents I didn’t do that. My Mum always said that if everyone gave up then there wouldn’t be any authors, and my Dad used to read my stories and give them to people at his work.

My dream during sixth form was to have a part time job, while also writing as much as possible, hopefully having an income from it. To an extent that has come true. I write at least 3 days a week, even if it’s not a lot of words. I have a job, zero hour contract job, but still a job. Almost part time. I’m moving in with my girlfriend and paying my fair share in bills, without hassle. I regularly upload chapters and stories on here, and some people actually read them. I notice people coming back and liking several chapters, and not just people I know in real life. That is an amazing feeling, whenever I see that. It may not be what I thought it would be, it’s a hell of a lot more work than I ever dreamed, but to some degree I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I’ve written 3 full books. 1 novella and a few handfuls of short stories. Not all of these are on here, yet, but they will be. I think 18 year old me would be proud of 24 year old.

18 was 6 years years ago, in 6 years time I’ll be 30. That is insane to think that it’s that close. Not that the age of 30 bothers me in any way. Maybe I’ll feel different in 6 years time. I don’t have aims for that year, and I’ve been thinking about it. I’m taking writing seriously. That’s my main aim, to continue to do that. Even if no one reads anything I write in 6 years, I hope I’m still trying. If I give up at age 28, or whatever, then 30 will feel crap. I’m sure I’ll remember writing this, as I try to sleep and I would be disappointed. But that isn’t going to happen. Even if no one continues to read my stories I’ll continue writing them. My next aim is to get them to print. I did one a few years back, and hope that I will have another one out by the end of this year. The Broken Pocket Watch is finished, it just needs editing. Which I absolutely hate doing. I have no problem uploading it to here, as I can change it constantly, but print is more permanent. If I didn’t upload things until I was happy with the editing, nothing would ever go up here.

The last film I watched as a 23 year old was Yoga Hosers, which I really enjoyed. It feels very reminiscent of Puppet Master, in a good way and was a good enjoyable film. It reminds me of Scott Pillgrim, which is one of my favourite films, in its unique presentation. Almost like a comic book. The film follows to teenage clerks who end up fighting an army of Nazi bratwurst soldiers. It’s weird, stupid and fun. I would watch it again.

I’m not reading anything at the moment, but I’m hoping to find something with my birthday money to start soon. As I’m moving soon, my unread books are in boxes somewhere and I don’t have access to them, at least without hassle.

Thanks for reading,

Ashley

I started this post, as when I was looking through my previous posts recently, I noticed I had written one every year about my birthday since I started this blog almost 5 years ago. I didn’t know what to write, so I just started writing and words happened.

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