Photo from The Clock archives

Brianna Bailey
For ‘The Clock’

I feel it one day when passing by a wilted flower. It’s enough to dissipate my sense of urgency, to make me stop. To make me stand there, in the middle of the sidewalk, just to look at its rosy, bowed head already tinged with gray. It’s been getting colder for a while now; every day more leaves fall to add another stitch to the blanket of reds, oranges, and browns that will soon cover the ground.  While counting each fallen petal among those leaves, I imagine how much the flower must miss the warmth of the sun. It must notice its absence every day, waiting to be drenched in light again. I don’t think even a desire burning that strong could keep it warm, but I try not to dwell on it for too long.  When I leave the flower behind, I notice a cat. She’s perched in a windowsill, her eyes meeting mine. I almost stop again.


I don’t feel it when I crank the handle of the old gumball machine next to the laundromat. It’s something I begin to notice only once I pop the little ball glazed with green sugar into my mouth and chew for a while. I savor the sweetness for as long as I can, feeling it caress my tongue, until I’m chewing flavorless rubber. The flavor never lasts long; it’s the yearning to taste it again that lasts longer. I put another quarter into the machine. 


In the stillness of the morning, I feel it the most. It’s when I knock against the bookshelf and cut through the silence. The jingle of her bell collar hits the ground. I almost pick it up, just to have the familiarity in my hands. But it’s not the collar that’s occupying my thoughts. Instead I look out the window, under the tree where the dirt has recently been disturbed to mark her resting place.  I wonder how long the flowers surrounding it will last before they, too, start to bow their heads.