prompt: clock, title: blessings, counted in misc. flash fiction

  • April 5, 2023, 7:41 p.m.
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  • Public

Long before you were even born, when he was barely a teenager himself, your father stumbled simultaneously into the best and worst luck in human history. There was a group of older toughs harassing a cat, cornering the creature, looking to beat it dead. “What the hell are you doing?” he stammered out. It belonged to the old lady from the city’s edge, who many believed a witch. She was an abomination, their priest told them that, and so then must also be her cat.

“There’s no such thing as witches,” he screamed, “and even if there were, that’s just a cat!” With a bravery he didn’t fully understand, he jumped into the fray and got thrashed within one inch of his life. You may never have been at all born except that from nowhere rolled in a storm, clouds coalesced into a woman’s form, terrible beyond all reckoning. The young men never seen again, only your dad and the witch would ever know she turned them into rats, swiftly devoured by her cat. “We do exist,” she said, bundling him up for healing, “and we thank you.”

Over the years, she granted him gifts and boons, in thanks for saving her familiar, and though he didn’t fully understand, he accepted them gladly. That’s why he never lost his keys, always knew when it was about to snow. It’s how he met your mom, you know. On the very day of your birth, he discovered a tiny grandfather clock on his porch and knew it another charm from “Auntie”.

The clock read midnight.

“It doesn’t work,” your mother observed, never fully believing her husband’s weird stories. “It’s from Auntie,” he smiled, “I’m certain it does something.” Slowly but surely, however, it moved and by the time you turned six, it was nearly one. By junior high, it read two-ish. You lost your virginity just past three, though its hands did abruptly lurch forth and back a few times, as well, along the way. When you won that tequila drinking contest, trying to impress some cuties, it was suddenly just before midnight, but your best friends watched you vomit all night and it returned to true. When you jumped into that rocky cove, trying to impress some cutie, ‘til you arose from icy water, it did the same. It tells how many of your days remain, a mostly-mystical gift that you may fully understand how precious this life is.

And your life’s been pretty good, despite a few quite-bad things here and there. I should know. As your father’s eldritch “Auntie”, I have watched over you as well. I just wanted you to notice now, your clock’s about to strike ten. You have a while left but not a long while and I want you to enjoy everything that’s left for you until that inevitable end. Ticks-tocks then, a tiny slice of your years remain. Just enough to make a little more of your own kind of magic yet. Good luck.

Last updated April 06, 2023

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