I get up, and the world is still. It’s dark outside. The moon greets me as I stare out of the window. The whole house is quiet. Dad is probably asleep as well. I must have slept for hours. Maybe everything will be alright now. Standing up, I fling the quilt around. Hoping not to find a bishop flying across the room, or hidden somewhere in the bed. Nothing.
The world is normal again. I curl back up on the bed and grab my book. I fly through the pages. The story of pirates and new islands, loves lost, battles won. I forget about my world. I forget about chess. Everything is about this book.
I finish a chapter and flick the page over. Pausing for a second. The house is too quiet. There is no noise at all. Not even the ticking. I’m so used to blocking it out, that I don’t notice. I place the book, slowly, on my bed. Pausing before I move. Hoping deep down that the ticking continues and that I just completely tuned it out of my brain. That would solve pretty much everything in my life.
The ticking doesn’t return. I kick my legs of the bed, with great reluctance. My feet reach for the floor, the wood creaking as I take the first step. The wood is cool and refreshing to my bare feet. With each creak, the door gets closer. There’s not one bit of me that wants to reach the door, to admit that this whole thing is real. That the ticking has stopped, and I have to find out why.
My hand reaches out and opens the door. The ticking isn’t there. I would hear it here. I know I would. There is no need to go further, and yet I do. Going down each step one at a time. Maybe Dad has stopped all the clocks. Maybe he’s admitted that it’s annoyed him as much as it does me and stopped them all. Maybe tomorrow we will move to the City with my uncle and live there forever and forget that we left the pocket watch here and never think of it again and then maybe if we do we won’t come back for it and we will be happy and never have to think about the ticking or chess because we don’t like chess not really and maybe the world will be a better place and we can help and maybe I’ll never reach the bottom of these stairs and this will never be a problem and I’ll wake up in bed and nothing will be different at all.
I reach the bottom and take a deep breath, knowing what’s on the other side of the door. Slowly my hand opens the door. Inside the clocks have not only stopped ticking, they’ve also all been broken. Each face has been smashed, the arms snapped, some ripped off the wall completely. Were we robbed? No. No one would do this to us. Would they. Did they blame us for Tobi’s death. Why would people do this. The windows are smashed as well, the glass scattered around on the floor creating a maze of safety. I can’t believe it. Someone did this to us. How can we be blamed for that. I don’t understand.
“Dad,” I shout. “You need to see this. Dad. Come down now.”
He doesn’t hear me, and I don’t want to shout louder. Leaving the door open I take two steps at a time and throw myself at Dad’s door. He shoots up in bed.
“Nymia, what’s going on.”
“Dad, we’ve been robbed. Someone has destroyed the shop.”
“What?” he says, while sweeping the quilt off him and standing up in the same movement.
He doesn’t say another word, and I don’t need to. He takes lead and I follow him down the stairs. He reaches to open the door at the bottom and swings it open. The ticking greets us, and inside the shop looks the same as it always does.
“This all looks normal,” Dad says. “Maybe you were just having a bad dream. Come on, lets go back to bed.”
I let him pass me on the stairs and continue staring at the shop. Everything looks the same, nothing is different at all. I walk out, and lean on the counter. Everything is perfect, as it always is. Nothing has changed at all.
What is happening to me?
Nothing in the shop has changed. I inspect every corner, hoping to find something that’s different. Something that has changed. Just something to prove I’m not going insane. But I’m not going to suddenly find the shop in tatters. The windows can’t just fix themselves.
In the middle of the small, cluttered shop floor, I find it. The bishop. I pick it up and rub my fingers over it, rotating it in my palm. It feels so real, but I know it can’t be.
“Aren’t you going to go to bed?” Dad asks.
I didn’t even realise he was standing in the doorway. I look over at him, still rotating the piece.
“Soon. Do we have a chess set?”
“A chess set? Why would you want to know that at this time? No we don’t.”
“Did we have one?”
“Your Mum did. But I got rid of it. I donated it to the school actually.”
“I’ve never seen it there.”
“Sounds about right, but come on now. Get to bed. It’s late and you need sleep.”
I think about showing him the piece. But I don’t want confirmation that I’m going completely insane. That the world around me is falling apart.
“Okay,” I say.
I follow him up the stairs and go to my room. Collapsing on the bed, I create a fist around the bishop. Even though I need to figure out if I’m insane, I fall asleep. I feel my body slump into dreamland. I couldn’t move if I wanted too.
When I wake, the first thing I do is check my hand. It’s still there. The bishop. Maybe I’m not insane, maybe someone dropped it earlier, maybe that’s why I’m focusing on it so much. I picked it up and can’t get it out of my drowsy head that I have little control of. That isn’t much solace though.
I stand up and stretch, keeping hold of the bishop at all times.
“Sorry, I didn’t realise you were in here.”
I turn to find my Mum walking into the room.
“What are you doing here?” she asks. “Were you asleep?”
“I think I fell asleep yeah, it’s been a long couple of days.”
I don’t want to worry her, even if I’m not convinced this is real.
I blink and she’s gone. The bishops gone, and I don’t know what to do. I want to hope that everything is back to normal, but I know that isn’t going to happen.