This sprung from the idea of an old man listening to the chime of the grandfather clock as it struck the hour. Amazing what your mind can ponder on in the car on the way to work. Written 24th January 2012
The Grandfather Clock -By VC Willow
I raise my head the couple of centimetres from the pillow that are now the limits of my capabilities. My ears are gradually loosing the ability to register softer tones; the world is gradually becoming more and more silent to me. I still hear the loud ticking of the Grandfather clock; it is the one that sat in Ethel’s and my hallway for the last fifty years. It is all that remains of her, all that is with me, apart from my memories- and they are fading from me too. I remember the first time I met her, it was 1938, we were young and care free, I was a 21year old chancer, who saw a sparky girl and asked her to the dance. We danced all night and as we walked along the promenade after leaving the hall, I would wrap my arm around her singing the latest dance tune softly in her ear, the only sounds in the world we could care for were each others voices and the rustling of the tide sweeping in over the shingle.
She waited for me as I traipsed through India and Burma, while we hid from the Japanese soldiers and sweated our bodies thin in the jungle, praying that soon we would hear that the war was over, that we were returning home to our green and pleasant land and our sweethearts. She waited for me all those long years, and now I can only hope that she is waiting for me again. Wherever she is, I will soon join her. I am not long for this world.
My once lithe and limber body is now in its final decay. The muscles that use to hold Ethel tight, that carried Charlie’s backpack through the jungle so he wasn’t left behind have now wasted away and my skin flaps like a sheath of wheat in a gentle English summer breeze. I dream of home, of Sunday afternoons in the garden and the peace broken only by the sound of the last cuckoo calling in the hazy June Sun, and of the grandfather clock in the hall chiming the hour through the patio doors.
It chimes now as I raise my head to look at its shining brass face surrounded by the rich warm tones of Mahogany. It is 8pm and they have put me to bed over an hour ago, I can not sleep, so I lay here, my eyes half closed remembering the heady yet gentle smell of Lux soap when I nuzzled Ethel’s neck as she held me close on a Waltz or a foxtrot and the way her crooked upper lip tilted when she smiled. I miss her smile, the smile that made her whole face light up, that made her eyes glimmer mischievously as she told me one of her jokes, or the ditties that her daddy taught her, the ones that got ruder after a couple of G&T’s.
Our simple lives lived so well, so easily in each other’s company. She has been gone too long. Perhaps if I close my eyes I will hear her voice one more, as I pass from this short life that has been so good to me into the beyond where everyday is a sunny summer Sunday afternoon in the garden with only the sound of the last cuckoo and the chime of the grandfather clock as it strikes the hour.