Saturday, June 18, 2011

Broken Watch—A Fable

Once there was an elderly man. He lived alone, forgotten by his world. The people of the city had once depended on him, but now he seemed of no use to them.

The Old Watchshop had closed down. The marvelous little clocks that timed the entire city had been made there. Grandfather clocks, children’s clocks, mother’s kitchen clocks and father’s desk clocks were all wound and started there. But it had closed down.

No one really knew why—they never wanted to ask the Old Man, as the called the old watchmaker. Some figured he had grown tired of winding and setting together clocks. Some thought they hadn’t paid him enough gratitude to keep him liking his job. Some believed his “fortune” had run out and could no longer afford watch pieces.

But in any case, the Old Watchshop was closed. The people’s watches ran down. And then the Grandfather clocks ticked their last. The father’s clocks fell next, then the mothers’ and finally the children’s. And then the city was without time. The meetings were never on time, most people never showed up, and there was no telling passersby what the time was. The town was timeless in the worst of ways.

But none of the townspeople thought to ask the Old Man to fix his creations. His clocks kept ticking and kept ticking in his house. In the beginning of the timeless days, as they were called, people had gone to his house to hear the bells ring and know what time it was. Not any more. No one remembered him. No one, that is, except Timmily.

Timmily had gone to the Old Man’s house many, many times. He always knew about what time it was, and for that, the townspeople called him names. So, he removed his watch—the only working clock outside of the Old Man’s house, mind you—and threw it away. He had been the only one to know how to maintain a clock. He knew not, however, how to fix one. One day, Timmily had been waiting all day for his friends to meet. No one showed up. He blamed it on the timeless days and moved on. The next day, he told himself, they’d come. But they never did. Hurt and anguished, he went to go find out what time it was.

As always, he stayed outside the door long enough to hear the bells ring, but this day, no bells did ring. He waited. He realized that today marked the 7th year since the people had first gotten their clocks. And it had been 6 years since they broke. He wondered why the Old Man had let his clocks run down?

He knocked, bravely. No one had ever dared enter the exceedingly large home of the Old Watchmaker. Not even him. But he turned back—to see if anyone was watching—and then darted in the unlocked door and shut it behind him. He scurried to a near-by plant-pot and ducked beneath.

Plucking up his courage, he moved about the house with surprising speed and quickness. Passing a large door, he heard snoring. Peeping through the keyhole—for this was large enough for him to stick his head into—he saw the Old Man, asleep on a bed. Frightened out of his wits by the surprising figure and shape of this man, he darted from the house.

Timmily went home in a daze. He never told his friends of his adventure, but he never forgot it. He vowed that one day, he’d go back to the house and meet the Old Man. For all his deformations and lack of bolts to hold him together, he looked fairly nice. As Timmily oiled his knees, he decided he’d wait a year and go on the 8th anniversary of the clocks.

The year passed, and Timmily remembered his vow. He had crept up to the door way and was standing on the porch, awaiting his courage to be plucked up right. To his dismay, the door was locked. So, he knocked. His wooden hand against the wooden door made little to no sound in the spacious area. Looking about him, he realized the house had grew, or else he had shrunk. He hadn’t been back to find the time for ages, he thought, but the sun didn’t doubt her days.

Thrusting his whole body against the door with full force, he found he had made a clamor with his legs rustling after his torso. The handle turned idly, and a large man peered out. Instinctively, he looked over Timmily’s head. Seeing no one, he turned to go back inside, but Timmily, now feeling quite small and insignificant, called out, “Sir! Sir Watchmaker!?”

The old man looked down and saw Timmily. A smile spread the folds of his face. The face was neither old, nor young. In fact, he seemed as timeless as the town. His hands gestured for Timmily to come in, and the moment he stepped inside—invited, this time—he was amazed. He saw all the clocks all over the walls.

After Timmily explained the situation of the town, the Old Man nodded. “I have seen this. It’s been going on a long time, hasn’t it? About 7 years, now. I myself have been wanting to help them, but no one has even thought to ask me. The Grandfather clocks, the fathers’ clocks, the mothers’ clocks, and the children’s clocks are all simple to fix. But you must know how they work and how they are affected by all the others.”

“Others, sir?” Timmily had not forgotten his manners, but this man made him feel so at home, even though he had no joints or bolts on him.

“Yes. All the clocks are intertwined with one another. Each one is affected by the other. Your watch, the last watch in the town, was running down. It was lonely, but by you remembering to wind it with a word of thanks, you kept it’s spirits up and it’s workings going. But once you stopped doing that, it died. The first clock to stop was the Grand grandfather clock in town square. Because of it’s influence and responsibility, it had worn down. It just gave up, encouraging the others to do the same. Eventually, all the running clocks had given up but yours. But even now, the people’s clocks are still ticking. They are just unaware. Yours is ticking the best, but it is indeed failing you, as well. Such a shame! The only thing I told Adaton and Evalon was to not forget to wind themselves with my letters each day.”

Now everyone in the town had heard of the very first people, "Adaton and Evalon,” and the story of the letters, but no one quite believed them. They were wives’ tales and children’s rhymes and myths for the insane.

“My clock, sir? And everyone’s clocks? I thought every clock in the city had run down.”

“No, oh, no, Timmily. You see, your clock is you, yourself. The clocks you own is not the same as your clock. I made you with a clock inside you. You are a clock. And so is everyone in the town.”

“A, clock, sir?” Timmily stumbled over his words at this.

“Yes. You see, when your clocks ran down, they were the last, no? It was because you were still remembering to wind them with my letters, whether you knew it or not. You still believe in time, do you not? Yes. But many others do not. They don’t believe I exist, and therefore can’t believe in themselves. When they stop believing in themselves, they lose hope. And when they lose hope, they lose their time. Do you understand?”

“I—I think so… You made each of us? And then you have stopped making us, and now that’s why I haven’t seen any infants among us?”

“That’s why. I am making many more of your kin, but no one believes in me, so I cannot give them to your people yet. They don’t want to ask me for any. When you came last year, I was not asleep, but resting. I had set all the clocks in motion and let them tick. I watched and watched, but only you ever came to fulfill your longing. Every one else left behind the very thing they were made for, so that they could ‘grow up’ or ‘fit in.’”

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