Tick tock, so sounds off the clock, peeling seconds off the finite loop.
Tick, that’s the sound of all the time which he has left.
Tock, that’s the echo of one ragged breath to use less.
The watchmaker chips stoically away at his life’s work, stooped over a desk. Unheeding of time’s inexorable march forward, despite the reminder of countless devices, the clocks of his travail, ticking and tocking in metallic tones. He’s been at this for a long time now. Surely long enough for time to lose any significance.
These days, he seldom tears his eye from the loupe. Takes no break or breather. The fingers gripping the tweezers numb, they remain perpetually locked in one position. Still, a few seconds to stretch his back is a few seconds too many, too precious, drawing him away from the newest clock he is tinkering with. And from the watch waiting next in line. And then the cuckoo clock he has not yet got around to fixing.
These days, it’s only his creations keeping him company. His wife gave up on him long ago. Too consumed by his work, was the reproach. The tick tock of his clocks drove her out, in the end. Customers do show up, although they’re few and far between, and mostly come only to replace the battery in their watch. The occasional child enters the boutique, to ogle his vitrines and some of the more expensive wares they house. By now, however, the watchmaker has seen and knows all the looks. The looks holding the promise one day the kids will come back, older and hopefully flush with cash, and will buy the watch.
The time of others has become more important than his own. The innumerable devices are everywhere, overwhelming. They litter the workbench. Pile up on the shelves or hang from the walls. Minuscule pieces of metal clutter the space he spends his time in. Wheels and gears, springs and screws. Liver spots might dot his old, weathered skin now, but his hands remain as steady as ever, precise and dexterous, piecing the instruments together. They could go on doing this forever. If only he had so much time to give.
Tick, that’s the last sound of the clock.
Tock, that’s the echo of no one left to listen.
The bell rings and signals time, for the watchmaker, has stopped.
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