Her calves start to burn. She looks back along the train tracks. Back past the overgrown bushes. Back the way she came. Back to where she doesn't want to return. She looks beyond the overpass and through the summer haze. She walked too far today. She can't even pick out the hospital from the other buildings in the skyline. Hours spent thinking and walking make her mind as sore as her legs. No one ever wonders where she is. Nothing is ever different when she returns. Maybe she should stop for flowers on the walk back. Not that he would appreciate them.
She turns his scratched and dented pocket watch in her hand. Looking at the unmarred side, she recalls the day she gave it to him. It was silly to be nervous. She just wanted everything perfect for their first Christmas together. Sitting in her parents' living room, she had been unsure if he’d like it until the moment he opened the box. He never was a traditionalist, but he understood what tradition meant to her. All the men in her family owned pocket watches. He loved it, of course. She knew by the way his face lit with true appreciation--not the fake, polite kind. He only ever wore it on special occasions. Didn't want anything to happen to it, he said.
She flips his watch over in her hand and rests her thumb in the dent. Why he got it out that day, she'd never know. What was so special? He was picking her up for lunch like every Tuesday. That bus has silenced him, and she would never know. All the watch got was a dent. She opens it and checks the time. Noon. Cosmic irony, she calls it. Here she stands on an abandoned rail line—a ghost of herself, alive and unable to live. There he lies in an antiseptic hospital room—a vegetable, living and unable to die. She walks back along the tracks, turning his pocket watch over and over in her hand.
This post is part of the writer wednesday blog hop