A Note from the Past

Playing in the hallway one day, your kids accidentally bump into your grandfather clock, which has been in the family for years. As it smashes into the ground, you find a note hidden inside from your great grandfather, who died two months after you were born. Strangely enough, the note is addressed to you.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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176 thoughts on “A Note from the Past

  1. kathleenmagner

    I’m not dead, Julia.

    Julia tilted into the sunlight streaming through the living room’s bay window and reread the letter’s first line.

    I’m not dead.

    From the fort of cardboard boxes came a timid, “Mom?”

    “Shut it, stupid,” Kevin nudged his sister, “you’ll get us in trouble.”

    She elbowed him back. “It was your fault.”

    “Was not.”

    Through the shards of broken glass and splinters of grandfather clock, they chased each other from the living room, abandoning the boxes they been hiding among and the unpacking they were supposed to be doing.

    “Careful” whispered Julia.

    The responsible part of her wary of cuts and scrapes noted the bang of the front door, the laughter of her children on the lawn, the thump upstairs and the rush of nearing feet. The rest of her remained locked with the faded page she held, the one fallen free from the clock’s heart after her staggering bump, and its tumble then smash.

    You don’t know me, any more than anyone can know someone who disappeared weeks after they were born. But I know your grandfather. I know your mother. They’ll tell you I died. They’ll keep to common sense. The easy explanation.

    I know somewhere in our blood though, you’re different, Julia. You won’t be like them with their day jobs, their quaint houses, their tidy family lives. I felt the difference when I held you. I saw it when I looked into your blue eyes, your great grandmother’s blue. It’s because of that blue I took pen to paper and tucked this note away.

    If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to keep this old clock safe. We’re the klutzes, you see? The misfits. The ones who break the rules and suffer the consequences. I did. Which is why I’m not dead. I know I’m right about you too because you’re reading this and perhaps now you’re ready to break more than dusty furniture.

    “I heard the bang,” said Mike, breathless from his descent, “what happened?”

    Clutching the letter against her chest, Julia stared up from the sea of debris. “What do you mean?”

    Mike squatted by the base of the grandfather clock, eyed the field of glass, the bits of brass flung free, then motioned at the mess. “This.”

    “The kids.” Julia bit her lip until she heard them outside.

    They howled back and forth, then the whip of bicycle spokes took them down the street, to the safety of the cul-de-sac. Retreating to the couch’s armrest, Julia sank her gaze into the glittering shards sprinkled on the hardwood floor.

    “They popped out of the boxes and scared me. I backed up and, the klutz I am, I knocked it over.”

    “I knew we should have left it in the entryway.” Mike raked a hand through his hair, concern shading his face when he looked her way. “You okay?”

    “I’m fine.” She waved away his worry, the motion making the letter flutter.

    … Click here to read the rest. Any comments are welcome.

  2. catiequinn

    There it was, a note from a man I never knew, addressed to me. His name is etched in some family bible in some library in some faraway home, but it meant nothing to me… until now.
    The old clock fell to the ground, leaving a shadow on the wall where it stood for so many years. No more. Now, shattered glass framed a homeless face and wandering hands. A tiny note slipped between the pieces in the evening wind.
    “Dear Adelaide…” it promised, “I hope one day you will know me, but as the sunset dims, I fear this letter is all we will share.
    You were named for me, Edward Adelaide Thomas, and it is my hope that you carry the kindness and dignity that was shown to me by my grandfather, Lawrence Adelaide Edgar Thomas.
    There are no grandsons now to carry on our name. Your father was the last, but now I hold your tiny fingers, and I cannot join them to his tender care any more. At times you will surely feel alone, and wonder why your parents were taken from you. I will not be there to answer your questions, but I hope this letter will remind you of who you have come from, and the hope we have for your life.
    Do not fear for what has been taken from you. Do not look over your shoulder at the life enjoyed by others. That is the surest way to deny the promise of your own future. Your story is yours alone to write. No one can take that from you.
    You will be raised by your grandfather, my son. To you he will seem old, but to me he is just a boy. Together, we mourn our loss, and wonder how so tiny and precious a gift could have been left to us. You so fragile and yet so full of life – and lung!
    Adelaide, I have seen many days and many wars. I know two things to be true: life is never shorter than when it’s wasted, and you well loved by your father and mother.
    If this is all I pass on to you, I hope it is enough to sustain you through the trials you will face. Continue on, my girl. Go where we could not. You have already made us proud.
    Edward Adelaide Thomas”
    Just as it had three generations ago, the sun again set on that gentle page, blessed by a fresh sprinkling of tears.
    I called to my sons, still hiding after the destruction of the ancient clock.
    “Eddie? Tom? Where are you?”
    “Here Mom…” they crept out of their bedroom.
    “I want to show you this letter… I know you feel bad about the clock, and you do need to be more careful, but right now…” I paused, knowing my words would reveal more than expected, “Sometimes things only look broken, but they have to be, or you’d never find out what was hidden inside.”

  3. Qtaiiel

    The Smiths has been looking for weeks but they still could not find the perfect house. All of the houses that they have looked at so far are not the right one for them. One day while they are going to look at this house in the city they past this lovely small house. Lucky for them the house was for sale. So they decided to take a look at the small house. To their surprise the house was not small at all. From the outside it is a lovely, but small house; on the inside it has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Right away they knew this was the house for them. The Smiths moved into the house three weeks later. Everyone felt right at home, it was like they have lived there their whole life. But to Nancy Smith there were some thing about the house that she could not put her fingers around. One day when Luke and Ben were playing in the living room, suddenly Nancy heard a crash. She quickly ran to the living room and found the old grandfather clock broken. “I told you boys not to play ball in the living room,” scolded Nancy. “We’re sorry,” replied the boys. “That’s okay it was an accident, now go outside and play while I clean this up,” Nancy told the boys. While she was cleaning up the broken clock she found a pink envelope. Inside the envelope there was a letter, the letter was addressed to Nancy. She knew it could have not been addressed to her. Her family had just moved into the house three months ago. Later that night she called the previous owner whose name is Jen. “Do you know anyone close to you whose name is Nancy?” asked Nancy. “Sorry we do not know anyone with that name, I hope that help.” replied Jen. Nancy decided to put the letter away and read it later. A week has passed since Nancy had found the letter. Nancy was doing some cleaning when she came a crossed the letter. This time she decided to read the letter.
    Dear Nancy,
    I know that when you have found this letter you are old enough to know about me your great grandmother. I know that the old grandfather clock is broken, but that is not important. You do not know about me because I died two months after you were born. Now I want you to get the key that winds up the clock. Go to the bank and there will be a safe. The safe number will be your birthday 0611. I hope that the things in the safe will help you.
    Love,
    Alexandra Violet Murdock (Your great grandmother)
    The very next day Nancy went to the bank and asked for the safe with the number 0611. Inside the box she found pictures of her childhood, jewelry from her family, and ten thousand dollars. It was a lot of money. There was also a note saying that the money is for her to keep. It turned out that her great grandfather had built the house for his family, and somehow they have lost the house. The money was what her great grandmother had saved all her life. That money had helped Nancy paid off all of her bills and now they live a happy life. After she had paid off all of the bills the rest of the money went towards the Luke’s and Ben’s schooling.

  4. Directioner_482

    The Note
    My kids love to play in the house, even though I tell them not to. Today, I tell them not to play in the attic. And what do they do? They go play in the attic. What made me come upstairs was the loud noise I heard from downstairs. CRASH! I ran upstairs and I could not believe it. They had broken my great grandfather’s clock! It’s been in my family for 10 years and it was working perfectly fine! My great grandfather passed 2 years ago and my great grandmother had passed it down to my grandmother, she passed it down to my mom, and my mom passed it down to me. I was really happy I got to keep his clock, since I never met him. My parents kept it a secret that I even had a great grandfather all these years. I found out when I went to the funeral. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. “What on earth are you two doing up here!? I told you to stay out of the attic!” I yelled at them. Sydney and Shelby looked at me like that was news to them when they know good and well I told them to not go in the attic. “We were just..umm…going on an adventure?” Shelby said. I could hear the lying in her voice. She knew what they had done was wrong. I swept up all the broken pieces of the clock and put them in a safe box, just to have atleast SOME memory of my great grandfather. In the pile of broken pieces was a note. I never had noticed it. The note had read the following:
    To whoever is reading this note at this very moment,
    You have an important mission. You have to go to “Krazy Burger’ to complete the mission. Once you get there, ask the person there can you go in the office behind the counter.
    -Anonymous
    I knew it was my great grandfather who left this note. ‘Krazy Burger” was his FAVORITE diner when he was alive. I went down to the diner. “Hi. Could I please go in that office. It’s VERY important.” I told the person that was sitting down at the table. The place had looked a mess! But what would you expect when the place was like 30 years old? “There’s no need for that” the man told me. “Excuse me, I don’t know WHAT you’re trying to pull here, but I have something important to do so just let me in the dang office!”. I was fed up at the time, don’t judge me. “I know why you’re here. The note sent you here.” the man said. He looked pretty old. “How do you know a note sent me here?” I asked. “Because I’m the one who left the note. I’m your great grandfather.” I couldn’t believe my ears. But how? He was dead! I guess this will remain a mystery.

  5. RizingWriter

    After settling the frightened children down I went to clean up the broken glass from the fallen clock. My heart skipped a few beats at the site of my ruined family heirloom. As I was sweeping up the glass I saw a dusty old envelope taped at the bottom of the old clock. I dumped the remainder of the glass into the trashcan and bent down to carefully remove the old paper..

    My Dearest Great Granddaughter Nathalie,

    The night you were born a magical thing happened in this timeless universe. You see it was 3:00 am and your mother, my beautiful granddaughter, said very calmly to your great grandmother “Maman I think the baby is ready.” We could see your little body moving against her big belly. I still smile when I recall that early morning. Your great grandmother and great Aunt Gennie went immediately into action. She had everything ready and after I helped your mother into the birthing room I she closed the door behind me. Those two women were always patient with steady love of their family. I went on out the side door to walk across the land to get your father. He was putting the finishing touches on the home he had built for you and your mother. The very home you’re sitting in right now reading this letter.

    My heart jumped into my throat! But I had to read on…

    That night was a full glorious moon. Mama Moon sat proudly against the cloudless and starless night. I looked at my wristwatch and it read three forty four am. The date was Thursday August 28, 1937 just as you were entering this universe a single bright star cascaded down and sat beside the moon. Your father looked at me with shiny eyes and a big smile and said, “She’s here. Your granddaughter has made her presence known.” That was one proud man! He loved your mother endlessly and she loved him the same. Seem to me that Mama Moon glowed brighter and your star lit up the sky. I knew then that the ancestors had sent the next family Griot and I could soon rest.

    “Me?!” I questioned the empty great hall.

    There is a key on the back of this clock my lovely granddaughter. You are to take that key and open the black storage trunk in the attic. There you will find my legacy to you. Tell our stories.

    Infinite love,
    your Great Grandfather Nathan

    My hand flew to my mouth to catch the cry pushing up my throat that was sure to frighten the children even more than they already were. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I reached over and removed the brown tape that had held the small skeleton key in place all of these years.
    I grew up hearing stories about my Great Grandpa Nathan and the night he died. I hope that whatever my great grandfather left for me will help to resolve the family mystery.

  6. Mikalibur

    Mine is a bit longer as this is my first attempt at creative writing.

    Letter From The Past.

    I can hear a sharp piercing whoosh over head as I peer through the window outside my summer home in the country. “Jesus Christ!” Was my response at the image of the trees bashing to and fro reminding me of an apocalyptic scene in a sci-fi movie.

    “Dad?” The crackling cry of Jason’s voice down the house’s hall. Retreating from the window, I rushed into the door way of my office that was once my childhood bedroom. I can hear the nervousness in his voice which made it perfectly clear that he too was also viewing the spectacle outside the house. “What do we do Dad?” The nervousness in his voice now transforming into complete terror.

    “Don’t Move Son.” I yelled out trying not to reveal the uncertainty in my voice. I was once a Special Forces soldier, but I’m retired now. Nothing could have prepared me for this. “Where is your sister, Ashley?” I shouted as my stern voice echoed through the hall.

    “I-I don’t know.” Jason replied. “I think She’s outside.”

    Acting almost on instinct as if I knew what he was going to say just before the words escaped his lips, I rushed down the hall, cutting into the living room. I can hear the innocent scream of little Ashley as she frantically burst through the living room door.
    “ALIENS! Daddy Aliens” her high pitched voice piercing my ear drum as I swoop her up into my arms. “Are they going to eat us Daddy?”

    We can feel the house begin to rumble as the unidentified space craft drew near. Lawn decorations began to take flight under the strong gust of wind as if they were trying to flee from the present danger. I can hear our chocolate lab’s protective bark making a futile attempt to ward off the eminent threat to our little home. The pulsing engines of the spacecraft grew louder, and the once overbearing screech of unknown mechanics turned into a low smooth growl. Too low for my ears to register yet drowned out every other sound on the frequency scale. It reminded me of my youthful days, blasting music out the back of an old volts wagon beetle I managed to save enough money for as my first car. The bass was so loud the trunk rattled off the hinges, but then again that poor car was held together by duck tape and bubblegum. “Jason, get to the basement, and take Ashley with you!” The sound of antique china crashing to the floor snapped me back into reality as I barked out the order. No one or “nothing” will be doing any crazy experiments on My Family.

    I kept a small arsenal of hunting rifles locked in the basement for when my son and I would go down to the pond separating the acres of land between mine and the neighbors to shoot their ducks, But Today is a different story. As I hear the patter of the children’s footsteps running through the hall, I thought about calling Mondo, the family dog, into the house, but he was adamant at proving himself to our uninvited guest. “Mondo, Come here Boy!” Making one effortless attempted to get the dogs attention. “Useless. That dang dog.” Hearing the scream from my little girl, quickly drawn my attention towards the hallway as I heard a loud thump and the clattering of glass and chains.

    “Daddy, Help, JASON!”

    The frantic cry of the little girl startled me as I rushed into the hallway. Jason was lying alongside a collage of broken glass and gold chains hanging from the old grandfather clock toppled over in the hallway. “Are you alright son?” I said relieved to know that his doom wasn’t because of our visitors. As I quickly hoisted him up from the rummage to make our way to the basement, I noticed a part of the clock’s frame was hollowed out and a colorful envelope with a purple ribbon filled the gap.

    “What is that?” Jason quizzically asked as he rubbed his bruised forehead. It wasn’t long before I picked up the envelope when I heard a loud yelp outside the home.

    “Mondo!” Ashley Cried

    “Get to the Basement Now!” I screamed out trying to take their focus off the faint whimpering moan of the Dog. It didn’t take much to know that the visitors have finally touched down, and with no doubt are hostile. But why us. Why now. I sprinted down the steep basement steps while trying to grasp hold of the rickety old banister barely supporting my weight as I make my way into the basement. Jason had already shut the door and locked it by the time I reached the final step. Leaning against a cob webbed infested wall while trying to calm the sudden rush of adrenalin, I scan the room looking for the case I kept the guns.

    Ashley managed to locate an emergency flash light just before the door shut us into pitch darkness. I can always count on her to think ahead even at her young age. Whether it was on instinct or her fear of the dark that charged her to pick up the flashlight, It made my search go a lot smoother. “Daddy I’m Scared.” Her shaky innocent voice whispered through the darkness.

    “I Know Honey. Daddy’s scared to.” I said, as I tried to sooth her fear through my own lack of confidence. Still holding the mysterious envelope in my hand, I grabbed the flashlight to search through the case for any possible weapon that would be efficient yet effective. Only the 12 gauge shot gun my dad gave me for my return home from my first tour in Iraq. “Guess This would do.” I thought As I handed the flashlight and envelope over to Jason so I can take the shotgun up into my hands.

    I began to load the shot gun up with the dragon’s breath rounds I was planning to test fire out in the woods later on today. Perfect timing. Dragon’s breath shotgun rounds are not very effective other than for signaling and fireworks. One good blast to the face at point blank range would definitely do some damage. at least that’s what my logic is telling me. I can hear footsteps and alien burble in the room above as I slowly slid the first round into the chamber. The strange sounds where unsettling in my stomach, as they probed through the home in a rampage to find anything of value or living. I can feel Ashley and Jason draw in close to me as their feeble bodies tremble. My heart was racing. I almost let off a premature shot when I heard Jason’s voice pierce through the darkness.

    “Dad, This envelope has your name on it. it’s from great grandpa.” Jason said as he tried to read the writing on the letter with the flashlight.

    “Grand dad?” I thought to myself, now gripping the letter in my hand to examine it. He died two months after I was born. My mother said he was a strange and mysterious man. She said he began to isolate himself and grow more and more distant once I was born. The only time he left this very basement was to reset the grandfather clock to keep it going. To think he would stash away a letter addressed to me couldn’t Just be a coincident.
    “what does it say?” Ashley asked, as I broke the seal to reveal the contents of the letter:

    “Dear Rudy,(my child hood nickname)

    If you have finally found this letter, then that means they have found you. I tried to warn your parents, but they were given over to the claims of delusion. which is understandable. I’m sorry for not being there to inform you of this coming day. I have made a deal with the collectors from another galaxy and they are coming to take you and your family away. Don’t fight them. it will only make matters worse. You will be forced to participate in an intergalactic tournament to the death. I too have fought in this tournament and won. I know you can do it son. You have to do it. The fate of the world is in your hands.
    Signed Grandpa”

    Paratus et Fidelis
    (Prepared and Loyal)”

    I can hear my daughter Scream as the door Burst open and I instantly drawn the shot gun to take the first shot. “DADDY!”

  7. Ursa2282

    When you hear a crash like that and you have a Charley, you don’t think – you just move. You move as fast as you can. You hope for the best, but you brace for the worst. I rounded the door frame and the hoped-for wave of relief washed over me once again as Charley entered my line of sight. He was still standing, but Nana’s hall clock was not.

    The sigh that left me was a mix of that breath that you get to take when potential disaster takes a swing and a miss, tempered with a splash of sadness at the loss of the thing less valuable, but important, nonetheless. Now it was inventory time. Where did he bump? Was he hurt? What was broken? Was there still any danger? Having a Charley made it necessary to be a Zen master in a sea of OMG, and not always, but most of the time, I was pretty good at it.

    “So, what happened, kiddo?” My tone was even, so as not to freak either of us out. “You okay?” I asked, as I brushed his hair from his forehead with my fingers, comforting and checking for bumps or cuts. Miraculously, there was a bit of a red mark where I expected to find one, on his temple, but nothing else. He bumped the side of the clock with his forehead. He was not hurt. The clock was a mess and the glass was a hazard, but we lucked out one more time.

    “Down,” was all Charley said, but he wasn’t looking at the tangle of weights, chains, glass and pendulum next to him. He was looking at the volcanic eruption of white, yellow, black, red, blue and green Lego pieces strewn across his bedroom floor. Lego box on it’s side over here. Lid over there. The box must have fallen when he was getting them down to play with.

    “Awww, did the Legos get you, buddy?”

    “No. Scare. Sorry, Mommy.”

    “It’s okay,” I said, tone still even, still for both of us. “Let’s get you set up,” I said as I herded him into his room and swept the plastic pieces into a pile with my hands. I built a few things for him before going back into the hall to sweep up the remnants of a family memory. Charley doesn’t build, but he sure does like to take apart.

    Today, a chipped plinth plus a startled autistic 5-year-old equaled a felled old timepiece. When Charley gets startled, he bumps his head into things like doors, windows, cabinets – clocks. I was brushing glass, wood, and random clock parts into manageable piles and worrying about who my Charley would get to be when I saw the little pink envelope.

    Welcome little Sarah! Life will bring to you sunshine and rain – use them both to cultivate a most splendid life! Love, Gr. Grampa George.

    I looked in at Charley, my sunshine and sometimes, rain. “Will do!” I smiled.

  8. winonawv2

    Summer was almost over but not soon enough for me. The children were getting restless and bored, even though I tried to keep them busy, after a month of their constant bickering and fighting, I was ready to send them back and have some peace and quiet. I loved them dearly but sometimes I thought of how differently my life would be without them when I hear a loud crash in the hallway. Running up the stairs, I find Mary and Oscar amid the debris of broken glass and wood and the grandfather clock that I inherited when my grandmother died a few years ago. Looking at both of them I took a deep breath and counted to ten silently my fists clenched or else I would have killed both my children.
    Their mouths hanging open they immediately started to blame each other. All I could say was
    “Get your asses downstairs, put your shoes on and go outside before I do something that I will regret! I have told you a million times not to run in the house”
    They stopped bickering and walked gingerly down the stairs and out the door. As soon as the door closed I started sobbing sitting in the hallway, I could not believe what just happened. Gathering the large pieces of the clock that has been in the family for generations I thought maybe I could glue it back together. As I picked up the box the pendulum slowly started clanging softly it was then that I saw a piece of paper hanging out of the back part of the shattered clock. I carefully opened the glassless door and removed the small envelope from its hiding place. Catching my breath I could not believe what was on the front in a handwriting that was not familiar to me Alexandra Violet Murdock, my maiden name.
    Tears running down my face, I was stunned, not certain if it was for me or was meant for my mother, they had both died a couple months after I was born in a terrible trolley accident in the city. I was raised by my grandmother; she changed my name to my mother’s namesake. I just held the envelope in my hand contemplating why he would have hidden it in the clock of all places. I was told that he was a loving and hardworking father and served in WWII my mother was their only child, why would he hide it from grandma? I gingerly opened the yellowing envelope and could not believe what I saw ten World War II War Bonds with a small note: “For a rainy day” I love you.
    Sure they were not worth much, but it was a part of my mother. Gathering all the pieces of the heirloom I was determined to find a shop that may be able to piece it back together so that I could pass it to my daughter.
    I ran outside and hugged my children close to me.

  9. ladybug1

    It was loud in the house. The boys were playing football again and Rose Collins didn’t have the heart to stop them. An only child, Rose had secretly longed for a noisy household.

    Crash! Rose leapt off the couch. She wasn’t as nimble as she had been when the boys were young. A decade of trying to conceive on their own, and years of filling out paperwork with the California foster care system, had taken a toll and a little too frequently she and her husband, Tom, were mistaken for grandparents.

    When she finally reached the front hall, she saw her heirloom grandfather clock tipped sideways. The wood fractured; shards of glass scattered like ice chips on the floor.

    “Mom—” Clay started.

    “No one move,” Rose interrupted, glancing between the two to make sure they were okay. “Get the broom. We’ll clean it up.”

    Clay went to the hall closet. Andrew bent to right side up the clock. The body of the clock rattled with broken bits and glass. Returning with the broom, Clay began to sweep and then stopped. “Hey, what’s that?”

    Rose’s eyes followed his to a yellowed paper on the floor. Andrew bent to pick it up. “Mom, it’s for you,” he said.

    Rose reached to take the brittle envelope from his hand. Marked clearly on the front was her name in shaky pencil. Heat touched her throat and lungs. She went to the kitchen, still clutching the letter, and sat down at the table. She had no idea why a letter addressed to her had fallen out of a hundred year old clock. Both boys came up behind her, peering over her shoulder. Rose unfolded the letter, but it was in Italian. The only words she understood were her given name, which she hadn’t used in years, Maria Rose, and the signature at the bottom, Vincent Speranza, her late great-grandfather on her mother’s side.

    Rose decided to talk the letter over with Tom when he returned from the hardware store.

    The boys moved their football game outside. Rose had just finished rubbing some polish in a gash on the wood floor when Tom returned.

    “Oh boy, what’d they do now?” he asked.

    Rose explained the incident to Tom and showed him the letter.

    Then she asked a friend at the library to translate the letter for her using the Internet. A few days later Rose and Tom went to meet her.

    Rose’s great-grandfather had confessed that before leaving for America and falling in love with Rose’s Nona, he had fathered a child back in Italy.

    He wrote, “Maria Rose, I knew the first time I held you, those big, bright eyes, you are very brave. I have kept this secret a long time. You will find this person or her family and explain. I am not brave. I am too ashamed.”

    Tears slid down Rose’s cheeks. Tom reached for her hand and said, “Looks like our family just got a whole lot bigger.”

  10. swatchcat

    “God damn it! I warned you two,” Julie scolded!

    “Sorry mom,” her boys chorused.

    “Get outside! Now”! She pointed toward the door, arms out like a scarecrow.

    Julie kneeling on hands and knees swept bits of glass and splinters into the dustpan letting tears streaming down her cheeks. If her father was still alive, he would be so disappointed. The old grandfather clock had been in the family for so long and the memories she held for the old piece were priceless. She was so angry at her boys for not paying attention and now this family heirloom lay broken in the hall. She tossed the dustpan back toward the chunks of wood and sat on the floor for a good cry.

    A few minutes later as she wiped her runny nose across her sleeve she glanced toward the broken shell of the clock and noticed a piece of paper attached to the inside. The brass pendulum rested against most of it but her curiosity was strong so she knelt forward and pried the wood loose and read the paper.

    It read:
    My Dearest Julie,
    When you are old enough, I hope this clock will help you make time for the more important things in life. Family is number one so make sure you set aside a few minutes remembering your loved ones. Lovingly your Great-grandfather

    After spending a few minutes simply amazed at finding such a message tucked away from a man she never met, she finished cleaning most of the wrecked clock and went to find her boys. Playing in the backyard they paused cautiously as Julie step out to the back patio. She looked at them realizing how much they had grown.

    “Boys, come here please,” she sat patting the seats next to her. “Sit please.”

    “Mom, we’re really sorry about the clock,” said Rick.

    “Really, mom, sorry,” agreed Michael.

    “Listen boys, it’s not alright but, I shouldn’t have yelled like I did.” She brushed a little tear away. “I know I haven’t been spending a lot of time with you and I thought we could take a minute.”

    “It’s cool mom,” said Rick as Michael shook his head.

    They sat outback for a while, a mom and her teen boys, talking and reacquainting themselves for the first time in a while, giving the time.

    1. destinyalready

      Goes to show that people’s behavior can be predictable. This is why the grandfather knew what was going to happen in the oncoming generation.However, I think that the premise of the story could’ave engaged the reader more.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree with destiny. It doesn’t take much. A flash forward in Julie’s mind to losing a son to a perfect stranger, a woman who intervenes, walking down the aisle and becomes her son’s most important love or the reverse when a father walks his daughter down the aisle like I have with five, totally different and unique women.

  11. dcd

    Dear Andrew,
    If this note should find its way to you, I am sorry. Sorry for you, for your family, your wife Karen and for all that you hold dear. It means that time has been broken and this safe universe is no longer safe for you or your heirs.
    The key to your survival is the key you used to wind the clock, now that time has been broken in some way. How the clock was broken is not important. The clock becomes broken when our enemies, your family’s enemies, the enemies of time itself, discover where, and more importantly, when you are.
    How are you supposed to know this is true? Ask yourself, does any of the contents in this letter sound odd to you? I thought not.
    I don’t what happens to you or to our family or our universe. All I know is that the clock will break during your lifetime and that the key holds the answer.
    Tempus Fugit, Memento Mori ,
    Brent Carlson

    It was the third time I had read it through. He was right, the letter didn’t sound odd. It still didn’t mean I knew what to do.
    “Evan, get the clock key, please.” I yelled to my oldest son. We stored the key on top of the fridge. It was the first chore each of the children learned, how to wind the grandfather clock properly. Just as my father had taught me.
    “Dad come quick! I don’t know what I did?” Evan yelled from the kitchen.
    I ran down the hallway, careful not to slip on the scattered pieces of the broken clock. I turned the corner into the kitchen only to see another mess on the floor.
    “I don’t know what I did Dad, I picked up the key and turned to go and it fell apart in my hand.”
    On the floor the key lay in pieces. Except, it didn’t seem right – too many pieces of odd shapes and sizes.
    “Get Tanner, he is our king of puzzles.” I said urgently to Evan. Oddly I didn’t get the normal back talk I had been getting from him of late. He just ran for his brother. I started working on the pieces of the broken key. Corners first, corners first – but were there corners?
    Tanner and Evan entered the room and looked down at me.
    “Well just don’t stand there, help me, you goofs!”, I said to the boys.
    “What’s going on?” asked Evan. Tanner just started turning the pieces over in his hands, starting to lose focus as he got lost in the puzzle of the puzzle.
    I handed Evan the note and watched his face as he read it.
    “What does “Tempus Fugit Memento Mori” mean Dad?”, Evan asked.
    “It means, Time Flies, Remember Death”
    “Got it!” cried Tanner
    Tanner’s hands were a blur as he reassembled the pieces of the key into…a very odd shape. Four triangles joined underneath a shield-like symbol. It looked a lot like…
    “It looks like the Knights’ symbol at church” Evan said quizzically.
    Good thing I married a Catholic.

  12. PhantomRider

    I quickly became curious as to what was inside that envelope and how my grandfather knew that I would end up with that clock. He didn’t specifically will the clock to me. How could he have known that none of his children, or any of the other 12 grandchildren would want that old clock.

    Then I started remembering the simple love-hate relationship that I had with him.

    He was the man who taught me to drive that old tractor on the farm. He was the man who cried silently when we buried his lovely wife. He was the man who would call his children (and grandchildren) together for a Sunday afternoon cookout and (mostly) smile as he watched their interaction. We all knew that there was nothing that was more important to him that his family – knowing that it was the only thing of real value that he would ever have to leave behind. He was the man who didn’t miss any graduation or marriage. I loved that old man more than anyone could possibly imagine.

    But he was also a mean old man with little tolerance of any mistake – of which I made many. He lacked the ability to see validity in any view that was different than his own. He was also a highly religious man who seemed to want nothing more than to have one of his offspring become a minister – something I knew wasn’t for me. And he was always ready with harsh words and actions to let us know when we had disappointed him or God.

    Then, I opened the envelope and pulled out the sheet of paper and read…

    Bryan,

    You are the oldest son of my oldest son. With that burden came an expectation that I realize now you were never ready, willing, or able to accept. I had hoped to leave the farm to you and that you would continue the work of growing plants, livestock, and people right here where your family has been for generations. But you are definitely no farmer. You’re too soft for that kind of work.

    I was always hard on you, but I had high expectations. My expectations made me someone you probably didn’t like much. I had a lot to tell you that I didn’t know how to say. Most of all, I didn’t really know how to tell you that I love you and that I was proud of you.

    Blake

    And there it was. He finally said the one thing that I wanted to hear from him more than anything else, almost 15 years after his death. I felt the tear form in the corner of my eye as I realized that even with that letter, the love-hate relationship, and the reasons for it, were right there in front of me.

  13. soochybee

    Today was a particularly stressful one. I was struggling with a deadline for the paper, my husband was working late, and the kids were working my last nerve. My five year old, Aaron, was bouncing on my exercise ball, while his little sister Brenda stood next to him and whined steadily for her turn. When I could no longer bear the incessant bouncing/whining, I snapped “Ok, enough! Mommy has to work! please just go play in any other room!” Some voice in the back of my mind whispered that this was not wise, but I ignored it and turned back to the screen, rubbing my weary eyes. I gazed absentmindedly at the wallpaper on my computer. It was of my husband and I in Ireland, about a year before we’d had Aaron. Oh, how I missed those carefree days of adventure,the freedom of the open road…
    A crash interrupted my little daydream, followed by a little squeal and a small “uh oh!” Yup, should’ve listened to the voice in my head. I came into the hallway to see Brenda and Aaron standing over the pieces of the now broken grandfather clock we had hanging in our hallway. The clock that had been left for me by my grandfather. I’d never gotten to meet him, he died when I was just a baby. But somehow that clock had made me feel like I had a part of him. And now it was broken.
    “Do you know what you did?!? This was a special clock from mommy’s grandfather! and how did you even get…”
    My lecture stopped mid-sentence as I noticed an envelope wedged under a large piece of clock. I pulled it out. It was old and yellowed. And it had my name on it! I carefully slit it open and pulled out the note inside and began to read:
    “My precious Rebecca,
    No doubt you are a grown woman as you read this, with a family of your own. The day you were born, I decided to leave you everything I own. I know this will not be the last note I leave you, and so all I will say for now is that if you are anything like your mother was, this note will lead you on a long-awaited adventure. If you look at the slip of paper under this one, you will find what I have left you.”
    I pulled out the second paper curiously. Just a combination number. But then at the bottom was an address. I ran back to my computer and typed it in. The location came up. A bank in Switzerland! The number was for a security deposit box. I stared at the screen for a minute and a smile formed slowly. I had no doubt that box was only the beginning.
    “Honey?” My husband tapped me. “Are you ok? you look a little…out of it.”

    I looked at my husband and smiled again. “Better than ok. Hey, hon, how would you like to take a little trip?”

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