I was so proud when I got home with the antique mantle clock I'd bought Mark. I got the kids into the house and then carefully lowered the clock, still wrapped in plastic, into a giant gift bag and padded the sides with newspaper. I put it down in my study. I knew that there was a possibility that the chime was set and it would ring, but I had all day to hear it and to figure out how to disarm it before Mark got home that night. All day, I heard nothing.
Mark returned home and I felt smug with my secret. Even when asked what he did that day, Cole didn't spill the beans. And I hadn't heard the a peep or a chime out of the clock all day.
Mark and I watched tv and chatted all evening. Then I went downstairs to my study to check on things and in the silence of the night I heard "tick ... tick ... tick ...."
Ah man! Somehow the pendulum must not have stopped completely when I'd transported it home.
I shut my office door and took all the newspaper out of the gift bag. Then I carefully lifted the clock out of the bag, using my feet to pin the gift bag to the ground as I lifted. The clock ticked happily away, content that it was doing what it was made to do - keep time.
I opened up the back panel and stilled the pendulum with my hand. Then I gently lowered the clock back into the bag and replaced the newspaper. I lifted the gift bag onto my desk, tried to get the folded scotch tape to re-stick to the gift bag and then I went to sit on the bed. I decided to wait a few minutes before going back upstairs, just to be sure. I snuggled in and lost myself in a book I was in the middle of.
Then all of a sudden "GONG!". It was a definite chime of one metal hammer tapping once against a hollow metal bell of some sort. A foreshadowing or quarter-hour rehearsal of the entire meloday this grandfather was promised to play on the hour. My breath caught in my chest and I glanced up at the ceiling, wondering if Mark was still watching t.v. above me. How loud was the volume? Did I hear snoring?
Then the more important questions came: I stopped that pendulum! How was it chiming? I hadn't had time to google how to turn off the chiming mechanism and I certainly couldn't do it now without drawing attention to myself. I guessed that as I'd lifted the gift bag onto the desk, the pendulum had regained its momentum again. It reminded me of an old, retired pianist whose fingers never quite cease to play, even unconsconsciously on his bony lap when the music has long ago quieted.
This time, I took all the newspaper out of the gift bag and removed the back panel, all while the clock was still on the desk. I held the pendulum for a moment or two and even thought for a second about stuffing the thing with tissue, then thought better of it in case the antique-ness was somehow damaged. I replaced the panel carefully and re-closed the gift bag again. Then I listened. No tick-ticking.
I went back to the bed. No tick-tick.
I picked up my book. No tick-tick. I was hardly breathing, I was listening so intently for the clock to suddenly spring back to life. It was haunting and mysterious. I imagined who else's mantle this persistent old thing had furnished. All night I expected it to re-start its tick-ticking. But it didn't make another sound. Not a tick. Not a chime.