He kept his world in jars. Clear, glass jars he filled with the things that pained him most. A scrap of silk. A petal. A jar of sand and one of seawater. Tarnished pennies. Dandelion fluff. A silver ribbon. In one a candle, in the other the wind that blew out it's flame.
All that was left of him was what remained of her. A beautiful scar stretching across the dark shoreline, chasing starlight and shadow through the forest. A memory sealed in glass coffins and laid to rest on dust covered shelves. A ghost.
Two jars stood apart from the rest. A fistful of feathers, soft as velvet and black as night, was the first in his collection. The empty jar beside it would be the last. Every year he took it down, removed the lid, and pressed the cold glass against his cheek. And every year, trembling beneath the weight of his word, he returned it.
Keeping this promise had broken him.
Paper thin and just as white, crumpled inside his tattered suit, he shuffled, stooped over, to the threadbare chair positioned in front of the fire. A miniature carousel, painted the bright colors of a traveling circus, sat on the side table. He placed the empty jar beside it.
In the corner of the room stood a long case clock, the penny moon full like the one in the sky, the hands creeping closer to midnight, the note she had written still tied to the dial door with a strand of puppet string.
"Mustn't forget to remember." he muttered, throwing a bespectacled glance it's way. Pulling a wool blanket from the back of the chair, he sat down, draping it over his lap. Even on the warmest summer night the chill in his bones remained. A bitter cold tattooed on his skin by the rain and what it had taken from him.
Though steady his hands when he held a paintbrush or block of carving wood, they were such lost, useless hands. He had forgotten how to create. A candle burned brightly in the window. A star lit to defeat the darkness and guide a lost soul home. He had not forgotten how to wait. Time and agony were the same in the company of the broken. The toys stared at him with empty, accusing eyes. The marionettes dangled at odd angles, tangled in their own strings. The dolls, once so lifelike, one would place a hand over the chest to be certain no heart beat within. Now, like him, faded, cracked paint and glassy stares.
Slipping his hand beneath his shirt he grasped the key he wore on a leather cord around his neck. Lifting it over his head he picked up the carousel. It had been so long since he watched her watch the horses dance. Both entirely mesmerized. Her by the merry go round. Him by her.
Inserting the key he turned it like a crank. Music, laughter, voices. The sounds that poured from it filled the room with false life. The fire crackled and glowed, illuminating the wooden ponies as their shadows leaped and twirled against the wall. The prancer. The jumper. The stargazer with his head tilted to the heavens.
The ticking of the clock counted each passing minute as the horses turned in an endless circle. He hadn't meant to make himself comfortable, but the fire was warm and the cushions soft. Stifling a yawn, he looked on. The painted trappings of the ponies were blurring together in a kaleidoscope of glistening jewels, gilded stars, and tasseled saddles.
" Mustn't forget to remember." he mumbled, as his eyelids grew heavy and began to droop and his chin fell to his chest. Her name, like a soft sigh, escaped his lips. The carousel slipped from his hand, shattering to pieces as it clattered against the floor.
As all of the clocks in all of the cottages in the seaside town whirred and chimed, the long case clock made not a sound. For at the same moment the carousel broke, silencing the music and setting the horses free amidst the wreckage of eccentrics, sweeps, and bevel gears, the clock hands groaned to a halt.
He had forgotten to remember.
Unbeknownst to the toy maker, fast asleep beneath the thorn covered roof of the forgotten shop, where moonlight, like silver thread, slid behind his eyelids and stitched dream to memory, the hands of the clock were not to move again.
And midnight would never come.Feb. 11, 2018, 2:19 a.m. 0 Report Embed 0
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