The Silver Watch: A Short Story


Wind howled softly from outside. A fireplace crackled somewhere in the distance. Pop! Snap! The charred wood fell, and little sparks flew from the fire. They were like little floating suns against the dark night. As the light flooded the room, a chair became visible from the shadows. An arm, then a sleeve. An old, gnarled hand. Nails so dirty they looked like small patches of mud. Skin so wrinkled it reminded one of an elephant, soft and leathery. The old man in the chair, with the gnarled hand and dirty nails, slowly aroused. His face was as crinkled as his hand, and eyes cold as ice glared from underneath thick, wire-frame glasses. His hair was snow-white, and only covered about half his head. In his hand he held an antique watch, glinting in the firelight. It was silver, and the chain squeaked as it dangled from his hand. The time read 11:53 pm. Late.

The man sighed and stretched out.  His bones creaked from the sudden movement.  The man stopped, brought his arms back down from above his head. He stuck the silver watch into a deep pocket on his dark green woolen vest. He hobbled slowly over to a window, and drew back the heavy curtains. Blackness invaded from the outside. The only thing holding it back was the dying fire, now barely a glow against the night.Movement in the bushes, a figure weaving in and out of the thicket. A howl, a shriek. It sounded like murder. Silence. Utter and complete. The man glanced around the now dimly lit room, silent shadows taking forms of nightmares from years ago. The soldier he had killed in cold blood, a boy left to starve, a young girl with sunken eyes, all watching him, waiting for what he would do next. He walked to the middle of the room, eyes now frantically looking for a way out of this hell. He fumbled for the  watch, but as urgent as he was, his old fingers could not grasp the chain. Time seemed to slip by faster than ever. The watch, he needed the watch!

The man finally grasped the watch in his hand. He fumbled with the small knob, trying to wind back the time. He fell to his knees, tears slipping from his eyes. The time! The time! With great premonition, a grandfather clock struck 12 am. The need to wind it back was so great, the man was now yelling at the watch to wind back, to do something to save him! Adrenaline raced through his blood, faster and faster his heart pumped. The wind outside howled louder and louder, growing. 7 pm. 6 pm. 5 pm. 4 pm. So close! 3 pm. 2 pm. 1 pm. The wind stopped. The fire was gone, not even a single coal left. The man looked away from the watch, his icy eyes now like a young child’s, frightened and alone. A thump was heard from outside, like a body being thrown against solid wood. Another. Louder this time. Again. And again. The thump was moving toward the door, searching for a way to slip in. The man gasped. Silence. Nothing could be heard but the man’s heartbeat, like a drum in his own ear. Scratching noises against the door frame. The knob jiggled, and then jiggled again. The man sprawled on the floor, wanting it to be over, to just end. What had he ever done to deserve this? The door opened, barely staying on its hinges. Nothing but the windy night.

The man dropped the silver watch onto the dark red carpet, his breath caught in his lungs. The freezing wind swirled through the room, sending shivers up his spine. He fell to the ground, limbs splayed across the carpet. His hair was a mess, his clothes torn. Silently, a drop of blood fell from his mouth onto the silver watch. Red dribbled down slowly, then hit the carpet.