Tick-Tock (A short story)

I walk into the office to see my boss waiting for me. He is tapping his foot, so I know he is impatient with me already.
“Do you know what time it is?” He asks, pointing to the clock. I turn to the clock face and notice the hands are waving at me. I wave back at them and smile before turning back to my boss.
“Yes.” I tell him as he glares at me and looks up at the clock. It waves once more at me, but he does not notice as he turns back towards me.
“Then you know you are late.” Late for work. I almost want to laugh at him, but I control myself.
Sure, I walked in a few minutes past the allotted time that was specified to me for these dreary workdays. This made-up idea of counting the hours, the minutes, the seconds of the day. I look outside to see the sun making its way into the sky happily and wish that I were anywhere but here.
I turn back to look at my boss once more. “Yes, I am sorry.” I tell him the words that he wants to hear. I watch his face scrunch up as he scrutinizes my apology. The crow’s feet lining his swollen eyes, the way his cheeks move when he talks, his skin the color of a dead fish. I feel my own face and hope that I do not look as he does.
“Your outfit isn’t appropriate for the office either.” I look down at my bright blue blouse with its buttons shaped like clouds and my red dress pants.
“What is wrong with it?” I wonder aloud.
“Look around you.” He says, sweeping his hands at all the people at their desks in their navy pants and white blouses, like mine but less colorful.
“I see.” I tell him as I begin to fiddle with the buttons of my blouse. I am not sure how to handle his statement, but I know the answer he seeks.
He shakes his head at me, accepting my apology, and walks back to his desk. I turn back to the clock as the hands continue swirling around, refusing to tell the time. I laugh and look around at the empty faces staring at me from behind their cubicles.
One familiar face walks towards me; she pats my shoulder.
“You will find your place here soon enough.” She tells me with her pretty blonde hair and blue eyes that match her navy suit.
“Will I?” I ask as I watch her face morph into its smaller pieces. The wrinkles on her forehead, the dark shadows hidden with concealer under her eyes, the lines around her mouth where she inhales her own death to stop the anxiety from creeping up.
“I am sure.” She replies, already moving on from the conversation, her time allotted for me having dwindled. She looks up at the clock. “Better get back to work.” She sighs.
I look up to the clock as it spins on, no longer noticing me. This is not where I want to be, I realize. In this place where everyone seems so lost, but do not even know they are. I cannot do this.
So I take a running leap and shatter the glass of the office as I jump through it. All the zombie-like faces watch me as I plummet towards the cement before my wings sprout and catch flight. I smile at them and wave goodbye to the clock, as my boss yells at me from the broken window. “You are fired!”

But I no longer care. I am flying away from this concrete jungle where everyone has forgotten what it feels like to fly. The sun smiles at me as I soar higher and higher. As I pass by a cloud, I notice a man sitting upon it. My curiosity gets the best of me, so I land beside him.
“What are you doing up so high?” I ask him. He turns to me happily.
“What is everyone doing down so far below?” He answers me back with a question. I contemplate my answer.
“I don’t really know; it is much better up here.” I decide. The strange man begins laughing so infectiously that I cannot help but laugh with him.
“Why are you laughing?” The man asks as he stops his laughter and looks at me.
“Because you were laughing.” I respond.
He smiles once more and responds, “exactly!”
Before I can respond, he stands and waves farewell to me. Taking a leap from the cloud, he flies away. As he disappears, so does the cloud I am dwelling on, and I begin falling.

I scream loudly, trying to open my wings once more, but they are no longer there. As I plummet towards the sea below me, my legs intertwine and turn into a tail. I dive gracefully into the water. I swim quickly, savoring the speed of my tail, and the feel of the water on my face.
Soon enough I spy a woman who is cleaning her scales far below on the ocean bed. Her scales lighting up the entire sea. I swim towards her. As I approach, she looks at me and smiles.
“Hello.” She says.
“Hello.” I reply.
“Do you have a minute?” She asks me.
“Yes, I do.” I say thinking of the clock who refused to tell time.
“Good. Many people don’t.” She says.
“Why not?” I ask.
“Why would they?” She asks and begins dancing with her newly cleaned tail. I look at her and join in, shaking my tail along with her. We move to the waves of the ocean as she glows with every movement.
“Why are we dancing?” I finally ask.
“Because you had a minute.” She replies before swimming away, taking her light away with her. I watch her until her light fades, leaving me alone. As the darkness encloses on me, I try to swim away, but my tail disappears as my wings did.

I am forced to wait and I sink into the darkness as it engulfs me. As time passes, I become comfortable in this emptiness. Then I see a small forest appearing below me, I do not want to leave my comfort, but I know that I must, I was not meant to be here forever.
I swim towards the trees and drop onto the land. I look above me to the water suspended overhead. I try to walk only to look down and see I now have four legs.
So I begin to run, letting my tongue hang out as I let the breeze into my mouth. I begin searching through this forest under the sea. The trees all wave at me as I pass and cheer me on, wanting to see me go faster. I run faster and faster, until I come across a child crying on the ground. I approach him slowly.
“Why are you crying?” I ask him gently as he looks up at me.
“I am lost.” He bellows at me, wiping the snot from his nose.
“Let me help you.” I tell him, but he only shakes his head.
“You cannot help me.” He replies.
“Why not?” I ask him.
“It is not time to be found.” He says.
“Then let us play.” I say.
“I do not play.” He responds once more. Turning away from me, I sit and try to figure out the situation once more.
“If you do not play while you are lost, then what will you be when you find what you are looking for?” I ask.
“Hmm, I guess you are right.” He says.
“I am glad.” I tell him.
“Let’s play.” He says.
“Yes.” I reply. We race and play until both of us are tired. We sit down next to each other in the spot that I found him.
“I am ready now.” The small boy says to me as he stands and dusts the dirt from his knees.
“Ready for what?” I ask.
“Ready to be found.” He says to me as he smiles and walks deeper into the forest once more.
“Please do not leave me!” I shout, I do not want to be left alone this time. I run after him, but soon my four legs have morphed into my own two again, and I am not fast enough to find him.

I keep running until the forest thins and a ledge appears. I look down into the ravine and see the night sky staring back at me. The wind pushes me into the night.
This time I turn into a star and my brightness blinds me. I am being pulled up into galaxy above, it whips me through the ocean once more as I see the woman, I had a minute with waving at me. I wave back as I continue to rise above into the sky.
The man who chose to soar up high on the clouds smiles and waves at me as I pass. I smile back as I continue to shoot to the skies above. Until I am above the earth and I can see it all. I see a star shooting by.
“Where are you going?” I shout to it, noticing that up close the stars do not all look the same.
“Wherever I want!” The star shouts back to me, before zipping past. I look at it as it nears the earth. The farther away it gets, the more like the other stars it seems. But I know that it is not like the other stars because I saw it up close. As it did me.
As I see this, my star begins to fall and now I am one having to choose where to go. Back down to the earth below I plummet further, shining across the night sky before landing back in the office I worked. I look down at my hands that are my own once more. I look up at the clock, its hands no longer waving, but set in time as it is told.
I frown and turn to my coworker.
“Do you have a minute?” I ask. She looks back at me and frowns.
“No, not right now.” I sigh and look at the clock once more before turning back to my coworker.
“Do you want to hang out later?”
Her annoyance is evident as she turns back to me, “No, I have work to do.”
The minutes’ tick by as I watch the clock and then I smile as it waves once more at me. I get up and walk towards the door.
“Where are you going?” My boss growls at me as I pass his desk.
“Anywhere I want.” I say happily and walk out the door to the next adventure in my life.

Published by hbcatherine91

Write on.

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