|Even a Broken Watch (standard:Psychological fiction, 722 words)
|Added: Apr 08 2006
|Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
|This is a very short short story about a broken watch. Over the course of the piece, the narrator realizes that she doesn't really have to live with a broken watch and throws it out. The broken watch is a stand-in for a broken relationship.
Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day. So you accept the broken watch -- a belated birthday gift from your ex. A watch that he'd already given to you once, and you'd returned the first time you broke up. A watch that can't be hocked for anything because his lousy name is engraved on the back of it. "It's not really broken," he says, handing you the box. "It just needs a new battery." What could he possibly be thinking giving you a used watch that doesn't tell time for your birthday? Time stops when I think of you. It's garbage anyway, so you take it. You want to hit him. But you refrain. First of all, you're not a hitter, and even if you were, you're in a public place, so it wouldn't be the right time for a brawl. You try to think about the implications. Or, rather, you try to think about whether there are any implications to think about. If you put a new battery into the old watch and it started running again, would that fix anything? A month later, when the battery on your regular watch breaks, you take the ex's watch out of the box and look at it. Even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day. As fate would have it, this is one of those times. It's a man's watch, of course. You don't have issues with wearing men's things. In fact, you like men's clothing. But it's not a beautiful watch. It's got a rectangular face, which isn't your favorite thing. But since you're going to the repair shop anyway, you take the ex's watch along with you. You might as well. You give it to the jeweler to look at. Is it worth anything? you ask. It has a brand name on the face, but it's not a name you know. It's not a Rolex, for example, which pretty much exhausts your knowledge of names in watches. That's when you learn that it would be worth $60 if not for the fact that the ex's name is engraved on the back of it. You tell yourself you'll keep it as a spare, and you replace the battery, because why not, and then you put the watch back in its box and you put the box back in its drawer. Thinking about how even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day, makes you think about other things. Old wine in a new flask. And how you can't teach old dogs new tricks. You notice a dictionary of Yiddish phrases on your bookshelf, a book you've never so much as dipped into, and you pull it off the shelf. You flip through the pages and stumble across sayings that you never knew were Yiddish: "Where there's smoke there's fire." "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." And then you find other things: "At night all cows are black." Which you love because it's the old debate all over again: Is there a reality apart from our perceptions, or isn't there? You began life as a philosopher. And then life intervened. You keep flipping through the pages, happier now than you've been for days, and you find this: "The cat likes fish, but she doesn't want to wet her paws," which, of course, makes you think of the ex, because what doesn't? You keep flipping, half reading and half not -- “If you stay at home, you won't wear out your shoes”; “A second wife is like a wooden leg”; “When there is wind outside, the garbage flies high” -- and then you light on this: "A new broom sweeps clean." (A nei'er bezim kert gut.) And you decide to get yourself a new broom. Not today, necessarily, but one of these days. You tell yourself that you are in the market for a new broom. You are stern with yourself. You insist that you don't want the old broom; you want a new broom. And so you set down the book of Yiddish proverbs, and you take the watch from the ex out of its box, and you walk the watch, which now tells the correct time, down the hall, and you toss it lightly into the compactor. It is 3:00 pm. Tweet
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