a cure for the common block

Most Wanted

Shane was a bit of a struggle of a child, he would always fidget (unless unhampered by clothes) and complain about what his parents made him wear. To be fair, even his parents hated the wool jacket he had to wear to church and other special occasions, but it was the best they could do on a budget. When Shane immediately locked on a pink tutu they passed and refused to move they didn’t even hesitate to purchase it; if other parents would judgmentally stare at them whether Shane was squirming and throwing a tantrum or wearing a frilly ballet garment, as far as they were concerned the only option was the one where their child was happy. Happy may be an over-statement, but at least he would be comfortable while he rolled his eyes and paced around waiting for his parents to finish shopping.

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The word “Copacetic” rolled off Lolita DeFleur’s tongue like a polished marble, after Andre inquired about her condition. Unbeknownst to her it was his favorite word in the English language, and until Andre heard it pass through Lolita’s lips he didn’t realize that a soft, French accent could make it even more perfect. The temporary linguistic bliss faded within seconds as the pair settled into their cage, detained as political dissidents. For days they were subjected to torture, both the physical pain of electric punishment for non-cooperation, and the psychological anguish of helplessly watching each others’ suffering, unable to take control themselves. One day they were released into a garden for recreation and just as Andre summoned the courage to confess his growing adoration for Lolita she handed him a penny she had been carving, transforming it into the portrait of a young girl. In a previous life Andre Simm was an assassin hired to execute political threats – ironically – but that life and those memories had been erased. He was a changed man, a writer, and even though he had no knowledge or recollection of any wrongdoing, he understood this gesture as an omen of revenge.

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Vital Signs (Book of Hours Pt. XII)

Sherry had exhausted all means of finding out what sent Gerald into his compulsive writing campaign. One night she finally let herself give in to her urge to wallow in her love for him, relish the joy he poured into her heart, and it broke her down. She agonized over not being able to help someone who gave her so much support; that he wasn’t allowing her to help. It broke her heart to think that he cared so little about her. The next morning she stumbled down the stairs to respond to the frantic knocking that woke her up – her eyes still red and bleary from soaking in salty tears. She lit up at the sight of Gerald and could barely contain her excitement as she welcomed him to her couch, eager to hear his story. Her mind was constantly working on puzzles and now was no different, paying attention to every word but also seeking deeper answers. By the finish she had an epiphany, and she delightfully placed the timepiece in his hands; she realized that Gerald’s confession was his way of reciprocating her love and she kissed him tenderly. Her epiphany was that the final spirit was not that of Death, but of Peace, thus releasing the spirits from their prison.

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Under the Radar (Book of Hours Pt. XI)

The pocket watch was passed on. preserved from destruction by human greed for Fortune and Glory – even at the expense of Tragedy and ultimately their own demise. For over a hundred years the message was misinterpreted, the legend misunderstood, and the spirits remained trapped until Sherry Oswell realized the truth. The moment she met Gerald Washington he sparked something inside her, a warm glow that burned stronger whenever she was in his presence. He exuded charisma, a light-heartedness she hadn’t expected from someone who had experienced such tragedies in so few years. She found herself falling in love with the man who was more than a decade her junior and decided to lock that secret away in order to remain close to him.

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In the Wind (Book of Hours Pt. X)

There is a legend that the concept of “fatum” or “fate/destiny” was so extensively written about that it was actually willed into existence in the form of a spirit. As the obsession grew the spirit grew more powerful and eventually split into four different fateful spirits, roaming the atmosphere and only occasionally influencing the events of life on Earth. That is, until the four gathered together into a unique timepiece in the possession of a tinkerer in the early 17th century. He had worked on it for days and replaced every gear and spring twice over, but the hands remained at twelve. He put it in a drawer to be forgotten, and even though he moved hundreds of miles away from that watch in that drawer, it influenced the rest of his life. Eventually, the spirits moved on to a new watch, and on, until the late 18th century when a man paid attention to the message they were sending. His paranoia locked the spirits into this timepiece and unbeknownst to them set them on their own destiny.

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Judgment Day (Book of Hours Pt. IX)

There were only hours left when Gerald paid a visit to his most trusted ally. Sherry opened the door, wiping the sleep out of her eyes with a smile. They sat on her couch and he told her about everything: his grandfather, the legend of the watch, the train wreck, the inheritance from his long-lost relative, their work together to improve the world. His hand quaked so much the time piece fell onto its face on the floor somewhere in the middle of the story. When he finished she picked up the watch and smiled as she set it in his hand, gleaning an insight which had eluded him. He closed his eyes and broke down, unable to bare to watch the final seconds tick off, he waited for the aneurism, or meteor, or – suddenly he felt Sherry’s lips on his and his heart swelled. He stared into her emerald eyes welling up with tears when he felt the gears stop. His eyes darted downward and stared at the same face that met him when he was ten: all hands at twelve. Sherry could see the confusion in his eyes and said, “Your life has ended, our life can begin.” And the hands never moved again.

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Unfinished Business (Book of Hours Pt. VIII)

A year after achieving Glory (a Nobel for their contribution to world peace through increased food supply), Gerald noticed his clock moving toward twelve and was sent into a panic. He had achieved great success before turning thirty years old – he still hadn’t turned thirty – yet in his hand he watched the rest of his life literally ticking away. He withdrew from the world and redoubled his efforts to share every idea and speculation – from economics to particle physics. His clothing looked comedic on his gaunt frame, and his eyes burned from lack of sleep as the young man obsessed over the legend hanging over his head. He had rebuffed a dozen calls and home visits from Sherry, who was growing increasingly worried about the most important person in her life. He had always kept busy, but this was erratic and frightening; Sherry broke into a cold sweat whenever the phone rang. After a period of severe despondency Gerald finally surrendered. At ten-til Doom he decided there was one more thing he needed to share, but he couldn’t write it down it needed to be told.

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Forging Bonds (Book of Hours Pt. VII)

Mr. Dunston spoke calmly. He understood the gravity of what had just been revealed about Gerald’s life and assured him he didn’t have to say anything. The lawyer said he would be in touch again, sharing his number in case Gerald wanted to contact him sooner. For the rest of the day he was numb. He thought he was empty of grief, that there was not a dram left to drip from his soul, but that day he felt the sorrow of a hundred deaths. He received his Fortune, but was going to finally learn from past mistakes and not expect his fate to come to him, nor would he dread the how of his fate. He dove into a dozen half-finished projects, with new energy – and funding – checking his watch for progress every day. He immersed himself in new fields, meeting new people. He met Sherry, who would become his best friend, confidante, and partner. When she asked about his thoughts on low-cost, high-protein food to address the nutritional needs in low-income areas, he placed his hand on the pocket where the mechanism rested. After having held it for days and even weeks at a time his hand became perceptive enough to sense the cogs moving before the first second struck. They began brainstorming solutions immediately and within a week they had made tremendous strides, as evidenced by the grinding gears behind Gerald’s kismet machine.

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Family Business (Book of Hours Pt. VI)

Gerald trembled as he affirmed that he was Gerald Washington, in response to the man on the phone. A second “yes” to confirm he was the grandson of Isaac Washington to the foreboding stranger who finally identified himself as a lawyer named Mr. Dunston. He said that he represented a relative of Gerald’s who had just died, and before Gerald could express the confusion that fell across his face Mr. Dunston began to explain. Isaac had an illegitimate son with a former maid while his wife was pregnant with Gerald’s father. He sent her away, but not without providing her with a small wealth to care for herself and the boy. While Isaac lost almost everything in the stock market, she invested more wisely and bought her son the best education, which he used to grow their investments even more. Whitney Jennings met his true father only once, just a few years before Isaac died; it was only one conversation, but it was enlightening to say the least. He never introduced himself to the kin he had never known, but he watched over them. When Finn died Mr. Jennings had his lawyer act as a representative of the train company, offering them a fair settlement. And when he died, he left his entire estate to the child prodigy of the Washingtons.

#ShortShortStories #FamilyBusiness #BookOfHours

Countdown (Book of Hours Pt. V)

Six years passed without a budge and fears began creeping into the back of Gerald’s mind; yes he had graduated and gotten a Masters in engineering, but he had done little else with his life. In his apartment he studied the watch and for the first time gave in to a long-ignored desire to deeply analyze a problem rather than use the quickness of his brain to solve it. He theorized that fate could not act alone, it would have to work in concert with the actor it affects, thus he began tinkering with a project he had started when he was still pursuing a degree in physics. When the second hand began moving a week later – almost every four hours – it seemed to confirm his theory, however he quit the project when he realized it would strike six before he was even halfway finished with the engine, let alone a working prototype. Dread and anxiety crept back into his heart, whose to say there would only be one tragedy? He began writing furiously, every half-baked prediction – as he was running out of time – to explain how he could come into his Fortune, because it wasn’t going to be through his hard work or genius. He was texting, calling, and emailing every person in his life as the seconds ticked down in the early afternoon in February, no one in apparent danger. Hours after striking six and everyone he knew was still alive, however the next day came with another phone call.

#ShortShortStories #Countdown #BookOfHours

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