Wilbur’s pocket watch mysteriously disappeared – Friday Fiction
In early May Wilbur’s pocket watch mysteriously disappeared. He
searched the house, looking in even the most unlikely nooks and
crannies, but found nothing. He asked each of the residents if they’d
happened upon his watch, and when they answered no he lifted the sofa
cushions and peered beneath the beds.
Sixty years of pulling the watch from his pocket to check the time was
a habit Wilbur found impossible to break. And once the watch was gone
it seemed he reached for it all the more often. His hand would slip to his
vest pocket and feel the emptiness; then a look of longing would drift
across his face.
On the third Tuesday of May, she returned to the Previously Loved
Treasures store in search of a pocket watch.
“With large numbers,” she said, “and a chain.”
“Got it,” Peter Pennington replied. He climbed onto the yellow step
stool, pulled a box from the shelf, and removed a watch that could have
easily been the one Wilbur lost. It wasn’t just similar to the missing
watch; it was an exact replica.
When she asked the price, Peter said, “One coin.”
He nodded in that strange way he had of bobbing his head without
taking his eyes from hers. “Reach in your pocket and pull out a coin.
Whatever that coin is will be the price of the watch.”
“What if it’s a penny?”
“Then that’s the price.”
Caroline laughed. With little to lose, she stuck her hand in her pocket
and pulled out a quarter.
“Oh, dear.” Peter furrowed his brow. “I thought it was going to be a
“Isn’t a quarter better?”
“No, it’s way too much.”
Caroline eyed the watch. It ticked with the precision of Big Ben and
was without flaw. “Too much?”
“It’s used,” Peter explained. “Previously loved.”
Sticking with his opinion that a quarter was overpriced, Peter
scrambled back up the yellow step stool and brought down a music box.
“I’ll include this,” he said. He twisted the key, and the angel atop the box
turned round and round as the music tinkled.
With great delight Caroline watched and listened. When the music
stopped, she said, “I don’t recognize this song.”
Peter laughed. “In time you will. In time.”
Before she left the store he asked if she’d hung the picture.
“Yes, I have,” Caroline answered, but as she spoke the bitterness of
the lie tripled in size and stung her throat.
“Good.” Peter nodded. “Very good.”
On the drive home Caroline made a mental note to hang the picture.
She thought it charming that Peter Pennington believed it might inspire
her; unrealistic perhaps, but charming. Obviously he had no knowledge
of her schedule. From early morning until near bedtime she rushed
around cooking, cleaning, buying groceries, running errands, paying
bills, and a dozen other things. Writing a novel had been a foolish idea to
“Maybe someday,” she told herself. “Maybe someday.”