The Man and his Watch

15 minutes. Need to get there on time. I walked quickly down the street. I had to get to work on time. That was all that mattered each and every day. Didn’t she understand that? My father did. I glanced at my watch with its gold plated face and simple black band. 14 minutes, now.

“Damn it,” I cursed loudly at a street corner, just missing the light to walk. Some people turned to look at me in irritation. I simply stared back and said nothing until their eyes were occupied elsewhere. I tapped my foot impatiently. The sign soon turned green for us to walk   and I made my way across the street. Just a few more blocks. Two more blocks. One more block.

The large domineering building loomed into my view. I quickly turned to my right and entered the spinning doors. I hurried toward the elevators, jabbing the up button that lit up like a golden coin. The doors slid open and I got inside, pressing the number of my floor. A sigh escaped my mouth as I was huddled into a corner by a rather large man with a bad looking suit. It made my skin itch just looking at it. His back seemed like a large blue wall, trapping me in place. Was he trying to barricade me in, so I would be late? It was probably Johnson’s idea. He just didn’t want me to get that promotion.

The elevator stopped at each floor, letting people off. Finally, it reached the tenth floor, and my legs practically ran ahead of me. They must have been keeping track of the time, too. I glanced at my watch. 6 minutes left. The floor was a sea of small square boxes where people called their offices. Mine, though had to be at least a few inches bigger. I felt the corners of my mouth lift up. I started toward my office with a small victorious smile on my face. I made it, just in time.

“Hey, Smith,” a familiar voice said. I looked up annoyed. It was Johnson. “You’re here 15 minutes early. I thought you didn’t get here until nine,” the slick haired monkey said. I blinked a few times. “Well, you know what they say.”

“No, what?” he said with a huge shit-eating grin. How I hated his face. “The early bird catches the worm,” I replied with a forced chuckle. His grin grew even bigger, if that was even possible. “Oh yeah, my grandfather used to say that to me all the time.” I watched as he told me to have a good day and sauntered off toward his cubicle. I hunched my shoulders as I navigated through the maze of criss-crossed white walls that created each individual space. I set my briefcase down on the carpet and plopped down in my seat.

My work space was bare; usually people had it decorated with pictures of family and friends, and all types of other stuff, not me. It would only make me less efficient. Books were stacked on the small shelf in alphabetical order. Notes tacked to my small board stay there color-coded, depending on importance. Papers were shuffled in piles varying to the amount of work and significance. This was how it should be. This was what Dad taught me.

I turned on my computer and got to work. From that moment on, I sat there, answering phones, answering questions, and typing up reports that weren’t due for months. I didn’t go to lunch. I got up to stretch, but I never took long breaks. They were just a waste of time. I was headed toward bigger and better things, and that path would need my undivided commitment. I worked until my fingers ached and my back was stiff, eyes flicking to my wrist every few minutes.

At 6:00 p.m. I trudged home to my neat, minimal apartment. I went to bed at exactly 10:00 p.m., after cleaning and finishing last minute paperwork.  The tick-tock of the clock in my hallway lulled me to sleep, and in the morning the blaring of my alarm clock woke me up at 7:00 a.m. to do it all over again.

I did my normal routine: ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, took a shower, got dressed, and started walking to work. I looked at my gold-plated watch as I went down the steps. 10 minutes. I was late. No. No. No. No. Something felt off, like I was missing something. I walked down that same street with the same signs and flashing lights, dodging people like I did before.  There was that lady from before walking with her young son who now happily bounced a red ball in his hand. There were no more tears. We all stopped at that same street corner. I glanced at her, giving her a small smile. She smiled back. I glanced down at her son, who ignored us both, concentration completely on that small red ball.

It all happened so fast, a red blur bouncing into the street, the boy running after it, too quick for his mother’s arms. Before I knew what I was doing, I was running too. What the hell was I thinking? Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it coming, a large yellow taxi. I pushed him out of the way. I felt the impact. I remember feeling the crack of my bones, my body going airborne for those few seconds, and then blackness, just completely blank. This was not part of the plan.

When I woke up, I was in the hospital. I had been in a coma for three weeks. The injuries: three broken ribs, a concussion, and a broken leg. Hmm, I thought it would be more. Time didn’t even seem to exist in that place. It was no longer mine to rule over. I was on a schedule, on someone else’s schedule, and I hated it. Soon, I stopped paying attention to it at all. To me it was like I just existed, not really doing anything, just floating on by. Everything was on hold, my plan, my work, my life. It just wasn’t fair.

Days passed by even slower than before. I was in a perpetual high thanks to the pain medications. Faces were blurred in my view. I could no longer distinguish one from the other, except for one face that appeared to me. I thought I had been dreaming, but it was real. It was my sister, Marie. Marie and her son Jeffrey had come to visit me. They lived in an entirely different state. I was very surprised to see her. After all, I had been avoiding her for a couple of years now, but I was relieved. I didn’t have to go through this alone. I no longer paid attention to the seconds, minutes, hours, or days. I just wanted to get better and get out of there. Marie and Jeffrey helped with that; sometimes I don’t think I deserved their help, but I was glad for it. I sure as hell wasn’t going to turn them away.

The therapy and surgeries zipped by without a hitch. I was walking now with crutches. Soon, it was time to leave that God forsaken place. I couldn’t have been happier.

Marie was packing my clothes as I played with  Jeffrey. She pulled something out of her pocket and walked over to me. “I thought maybe you might want this back. I know how much it means to you. I remember when you got it from Dad. The police were holding it for you,” she murmured as she sat beside me. I took it from her and stared at the cracked face plate and dirty band.”Thank you,” I said, looking up and staring at my younger sister. She just smiled and nodded. Jeffrey picked up some of my smaller bags, and Marie hoisted a larger one over her shoulders. She was quite strong.  I hobbled over to the door and stopped, gazing back around the lonely room. I glanced at the broken watch in my hand for the longest second, then threw it in the silver trashcan and kept on walking.

Author’s Note:  This was a story I wrote in my earlier years of college. It seems too similar to Stranger than Fiction, a movie with Emma Thompson and Will Ferrell. Although, the movie was the inspiration for the story anyway. 🙂

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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