The Clock Ticks On | Teen Ink

The Clock Ticks On

July 28, 2013
By KeepReading BRONZE, Kansas City, Missouri
KeepReading BRONZE, Kansas City, Missouri
4 articles 13 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
―Dr. Seuss

I stared at the wall with the clock. It was like I could still hear its tick-tock, tick-tock, insisting time must go by. If I closed my eyes I could see the black hands circling. Tick, tock indeed, I thought as I rotated in a full circle, taking in my surroundings. Four art covered walls painted pink. They used to be blue. If my brother hadn’t changed bedrooms, they’d have been his favorite shade of green. Tears burned white-hot behind my brown eyes, but they didn’t escape. Taking a deep breath I lifted one foot after another, forcing myself to push forward, to move. I closed the door behind me. To my right I saw the stairs of my everyday. Six short steps that took me to a different level. To my left was the other room, my parents’ room. Reaching forward I snagged the knob and pulled the door shut, but I wasn’t fast enough. Already I was seven again, running to the safety of the king-sized bed during a storm. I was eleven and under the feather soft comforter, sneezing and coughing, sick with the flu. I could still feel the plush mattress cushioning my everyday with its leaf-covered blankets. And pinned to a wall the color of pistachio ice cream, I saw in my mind, was a calendar from two years before. There was a certain appeal to never knowing the right date.

My hand slid across the rough wooden banister as I descended the staircase. The texture brought a smile to my lips. We’d tried to update the house by sanding down all the wood and repainting it shades lighter. I pushed through the living room, filled with furniture from a decade ago, past the dining room and out to the deck. Sharp intakes of air pierced my lungs. My legs staggered forward, my arms balancing on the wooden handrail. In front of me was the apple tree-our apple tree. My mouth watered as I recreated the taste of sweet, crisp, and juicy red homegrown apples. I remembered my father’s delight as he picked them, year after year. Glancing over to the baby apple tree, I thought of how it would grow. It was so close to the other tree; would it even have room to grow?

Lifting one leg over the handrail at a time, I sat where the two beams met to form a corner. I could almost hear someone yelling at me to “Be careful!” or my brother showing me how to jump down and land in a James Bond style summersault, tucking his head into his shoulder. I jumped then, landing with a soft thump in a crouch on the grass. I never did master his maneuvers. Easing into a standing position, I padded through the grass, barefoot. The backyard hadn’t changed in years. If I had to, I could point out where the old squash tree used to be. My father used to grow everything from mint and tomato, to green pepper and cucumber. One winter he covered them with a white tarp so as to save them from the bitter cold. But they’re gone now. All gone.

Memories of lazy days spent playing soccer, hosting family barbecues, and mowing the lawn hit me as I pushed on. I remembered a day, the day before my sophomore year began. He came in, my brother, out of breath. “Don’t get mad,” he’d said when he caught his breath. My mother had hesitantly asked where the car was-my car. “I had an accident,” he’d pushed on. “I almost died.”
At that point, we were in the kitchen. My mother and brother were sitting in chairs; I was leaning against the wall. My heart rate sped up. I stayed quiet, waiting for more. He went on to explain how a car was coming at him where he was on the right. He’d swerved to the right, to avoid the car, and then to the left, so as not to drive into the ditch. “It all happened so fast,” he’d said. One second he was on the road, the next the car flipped and spun, crashing into the ditch. He braced himself, holding onto the wheel. I didn’t want to imagine it, but I could see it. His fists clenched tight, shoulders hunched to protect him. He had run home. He was still shaking at the table when he finished. We went to see it. My white car, upside down, in stark contrast to the greenery surrounding it. The glass shattered everywhere, yet he was unscathed. I thanked God for his life. We all did.

My mother said maybe it was a wake up call, not just for my brother, for us all. So we could see just how close he was to…
He left for college a few weeks after that.

I knew a thing or two about people leaving. I went through it with three sisters before him. But that didn’t mean it hadn’t hit me as if it were the first time. I hopped the fence into the front yard. I walked out to the front where my oldest sister’s husband had climbed the tree, just because we told him to. One thought led to another, and in no time at all I was at the wedding again. I stood by the podium, listening as my sisters spoke, tears filling my eyes. And then, all of a sudden, I was the one at the podium; I was the one speaking. Having rehearsed the whole scene, I planned to sound confident, sure in my proclamations. But the time had come, and I was trying not to cry when I glanced at the stage. I knew then with certainty that I would not make it through my monologue if I looked at them again. So I choked out my words and then it was over and done.

As I reentered the house, silence greeted me at the door. No music blaring; no footsteps pounding the carpet; no one yelling. How different it seems. But I was the one who turned up the music, stomped my feet, yelled. And I’m still here. The clocks sounded all around me. Tick-tock, tick-tock, time goes by and will not stop.

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